Wimm-Bill-Dann saw sales from its drinks arm rise almost 7% last year, the Russian beverage and dairy producer said yesterday (28 March).

The company, which holds 20% of Russia's juice market, said revenue from its beverage arm rose by 6.9% to US$324.1m during 2006.

Group sales jumped 26.4% to US$1.8bn, driving underlying operating profit of US$171.9m, almost twice the level of earnings in 2005.

CEO Tony Maher said the company's moves to invest in its distribution network in Russia had started to pay off.

Maher said: "Though this journey is in its early stages we are seeing encouraging indications that we are on the right track. Going forward we will continue to accelerate the pace of our progress towards being the largest food and beverage company in Russia and the CIS with the leading position in health and wellness."

Wimm-Bill-Dann operates across Russia, with affiliated companies operating in 26 cities across the country.