First Drinks Brands, the independent drinks distributor, saw its 2001 volumes increase 30%, driven by a strong Christmas performance. It also said its first quarter sales in 2002 year were up 14% compared to the same period last year.

John Grieveson, marketing director at First Drinks Brands said: "After an excellent start to the year with quarter 1 sales already up 14% versus last year, it's now full steam ahead in quarter 2 with activity well under way across a wide range of products."

The company's portfolio includes Glenfiddich, Tio Pepe and De Kuyper liqueurs.

In a statement the company said it had benefited from a concerted initiative known as "project snowball", which concentrated on multiple grocers. "This improved relationships throughout the trade and as a result we minimised 'out-of-stock' problems," First Drinks Brands said.