The largets of the Czech Republic's brewers, Plzensky Prazdroj, which is owned by SABMiller, said yesterday that it had recorded record production levels in 2002, thanks to a strong increase in exports.

Prazdroj said in a statement that it produced 9.0m hectolitres of beer last year, an annual increase of 13% and the company's third consecutive rise in output.

Exports, which are primarily made up of its flagship brand Pilsner Urquell were up by a 36% to 1.26m hectolitres.

Much of this increase was thanks to improving demand in neighbouring Slovakia.