Mahou-San Miguel, Spain's second-biggest brewer, saw 2004 profits leap 31.4% to €84m, a company spokeswoman confirmed to just-drinks. The company's profits were boosted by strong domestic and international sales, particularly in the UK, where they jumped 15%.

Revenues also rose, by 9% to €818m.

Mahou added that it is studying entering the US market with a range of brews tailored to US consumers. The spokeswoman would not confirm reports that the company will launch in the US this year, however.

Meanwhile, Mahou intends to beef up its international presence. The company recently created separate national and international divisions and appointed Jaime Lobera as the new marketing director.

So far this year, UK sales increased 30%, the spokeswoman noted, adding that Mahou should continue to enjoy strong demand in the international markets.

There is "no specific explanation" for why UK consumers drank more San Miguel beer last year, the spokeswoman noted. The company only sells its 'San Miguel Especial' premium brew in the UK market and in the other 34 countries where it is present, she said.

"They just decided to drink more," she said, adding that the company hasn't changed its marketing tactics in the UK.

Mahou invested €70m to upgrade its Spanish beer factories in 2004, the spokeswoman confirmed. The Madrid-based company has invested €500m for capital expenditures in the past five years.