Recently-formed Stock Spirits Group is looking to up its presence in Central and Eastern Europe through acquisitions.

The company, created last year from the combination of Stock and Polish distiller Polmos Lublin, will look to grow in Central Europe and the former Yugoslav nations going forward and is on the hunt for facility purchases "sooner rather than later".

Speaking exclusively to just-drinks, Stock Spirits' CEO, Neil Everitt said that the company may even consider building new facilities in the region if there aren't any acquisitions to be had. "Our aim is to be the leading spirits business in the region," Everitt said. "We would hope to attain number one or two positions in the countries in which we operate."

Everitt declined to detail how much the company had earmarked for potential purchases.

Stock Spirits is owned by US-based investment group Oaktree Capital Management. When asked whether the current economic climate had squeezed the company's warchest, Everitt said: "We've been getting signals from lenders that there is money available for future acquisitions."

Headquartered in the UK, the group has manufacturing, sales and distribution operations in Czech, Italy and Poland, and sales and distribution facilities in the US, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Among the company's brands are flavoured vodka Zoladkowa Gorzka, Limoncé limoncello and Fernet Stock bitters. The company expects sales in 2008 to reach around 11m cases.