Molson Coors has revealed that sales in the US and Canada so far this year are on the up - but the UK market is continuing to prove tough.

Leo Kiely, Molson Coors president and CEO, told analysts yesterday (7 March) that sales-to-retailers were up at "a mid-single-digit (percentage) rate" in Canada, up "at a low-single-digit rate" in the US, but "down slightly" in the UK.

In February, the brewer reported a 24% drop in after-tax income for 2005 on the back of continued discounting in the UK and increased competition in its key markets.

However, sales are up in the US and Canada as Molson Coors looks to focus its attention on brands including flagship beer Coors Light.

Frits van Paasschen, chief executive of Coors Brewing Co., the US arm of Molson Coors, told analysts that the company would also give "national attention" to its Keystone Light and Blue Moon brands.

Keystone had "already seen an uptick in volume" in the US, van Paasschen said. "I'm delighted to note that we are going back on TV and radio with Keystone."

Van Paaschen added: "We're also stoking the fire under Blue Moon, which is in the important craft-beer segment."

He said Molson Coors was "monitoring (US) pricing activity very closely" after last summer's price war among the country's top three brewers.