Cadbury Schweppes saw sales from its drinks operations rise by over 6% during 2005, a year in which it sold its European beverage business.

The UK-based group said today (21 February) that beverage sales rose 6.2% last year, with all its markets "performing strongly".

"Our business in North America continued to reap the benefits of consolidating three separately-run businesses into one," the company said.

"In Australia, we are leveraging our increased scale following the integration of our full-system beverage business with our confectionary operations."

Cadbury Schweppes' Dr. Pepper brand was the driver of growth in the Americas, the company said. Dr. Pepper sales were given a boost with the US nationwide distribution of Dr. Pepper Cherry Vanilla. Non-carbonated soft drink volumes were up 5%.

Revenues rose by 14% in Mexico and 7% in Australia, the company added.

The company's drinks arm contributed to a 13% rise in underlying full-year profit to GBP873m (US$1.5bn). Revenues rose 6% to GBP6.5bn.

"Revenue growth at 6% is the best the group has seen in over a decade and shows that our strategy is delivering exciting products for consumers and strong results for our shareowners," said chief executive Todd Stitzer.

"Commodity costs remain challenging with oil prices staying high and sweetener and aluminium prices increasing sharply in recent months," he added.

"We expect to more than offset these increases through a combination of pricing and cost reduction initiatives but margin progress will be weighted towards the second half."