Vena has seen overall sales in 2003 leap by 25% year-on-year. In a statement released on Friday, the Russian brewer said that, in 2003, it sold 163m litres of products. Beer sales were up by 20.5%, which is above the average 6.5% increase in the beer sector in 2003.

At present, Vena's market share in money terms equals 4.8%, according to the Biznes Analitika marketing research agency.

Compared to 2002, when the company posted a net loss, Vena earned a 2003 profit of 160m roubles (US$5.6m) to Western accounting standards.

The company's performance is largely due to the new positioning of the Nevskoye brand, which saw its sales rise by 20%. As of today, Nevskoye is the second popular brand in Russia in the segment of premium beer with a 17% market share. In St. Petersburg, Nevskoye remains the leading premium brand with a 42.8% market share in money terms.

A high rise in sales was also posted by the company's second main brand, Tuborg, whose sales rose 25.6% in 2003. Its share of the licensed beer segment in money terms stands at 7.7%, according to Biznes Analitika.

In 2004, the company plans to boost investment in marketing and sales and to expand production capacities. In addition, a regional expansion will be continued, mainly into Moscow and Russia's central region.

Vena's main shareholders are Denmark's Carlsberg Breweries A/S (49.9%) and Sweden's Baltic Beverages Holding (49.9%).