The UK brewer Scottish & Newcastle said it was confident of meeting its financial and commercial objectives for the year, despite "variable" conditions in its major markets, in an AGM statement yesterday.

"Strategically, the group has strengthened its positions in its core markets and made significant progress in developing its international beer business, most notably through the Hartwall transaction," the company said.

S&N said it had been affected by differing levels of consumer confidence, the impact of the World Cup as well as mixed weather. "However, the broader geographic scope of the Group makes us less exposed to such variations," it said.

In the UK volumes of S&N's top five brands grew by over 3% in the year to date with new advertising campaigns for Kronenbourg 1664, John Smith's and Foster's helping to drive customer demand. This volume growth enabled Scottish Courage to grow overall market share in a growing and competitive market.

And business in Western Europe was continuing to make good progress in driving the market shares of S&N's premium brands, the company reported, despite disappointing summer weather in much of the region.

S&N indicated that it was particularly please with the results for Hartwall and BBH, which "demonstrate an excellent performance for our new businesses". In Russia BBH sales volumes were up 36% and market share grew to 33% from 29% the previous year. "We remain very confident that the underlying brand and operational strength of the Hartwall and BBH businesses will drive improved earnings into the future," S&N said.

"The increased geographic scope of the business has given us balance between volume and value growth as well as greater resilience to short term fluctuations in local markets. We remain confident in meeting our expectations in this and future years," the company concluded.