Interbrew said negative currency exchange had hit its half-year turnover but that volume growth had risen 7% on the back of strong sales of Stella Artois in the UK.

The Belgian brewer of Stella Artois and Beck’s beer posted a 4.9% drop in interim group turnover to 3.3bn euros from 3.4bn euros, while pre-tax profit rose to 622m euros from 573m euros in 2002.

Interbrew said its market share in the UK was now 18.4% as sales of Stella rose 12.3% and Tennant’s lager grew 4.6%.

However, the company said sales in Germany fell 5% as a result of a new deposit tax on non-returnable packaging.

Interbrew also announced that Francois Jaclot had been appointed chief financial officer with effect from September 15.