The leading Chilean wine company, Concha y Toro, has posted a net profit for 2002 of CHP16.31 billion (US$22.79m), up 19.7% from CHP13.62 billion (US$18.98m)in 2001.

Operating profit rose from CHP18.66 billion to CHP20.51 billion on sales up 11.6% at CHP128.32 billion. Net income for the fourth quarter increased by 62.3% to CHP2.91 billion (US$4.0m).

A solid performance from export markets drove sales growth for 2002, the company said. Concha y Toro said its wine exports had increased by 16% in volume terms to 6.3m cases, against growth of 6% for the Chilean wine business as a whole.

Sales to Europe rose by 43%, driven by "excellent performances" in the UK and Scandinavia, while higher sales of premium wines helped Concha y Toro to boost exports to the US by 7%.

"In recent years we have consolidated our position in continental Europe and have entered new markets in Eastern Europe," said Concha y Toro's general manager, Eduardo Guilisasti. "We have also established business roots in Asia that will offer good prospects in the years to come." Sales volumes in Chile rose by 9%, the company said.