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Chelmsford/ Norwich: Robinsons and J2O owner Britvic reports ‘robust’ trading for first quarter

12:56 29 January 2014

Soft drinks group Britvic today reported a “robust” first quarter performance, with revenue growth across all its divisions.

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And the group, whose brands include Robinsons, J2O and Tango, said it remained on target for full-year earnings in line with previous guidance, with its cost-cutting programme which includes the closure of its factory in Chelmsford also on track.

Revenues in Great Britain were 1.5% ahead in the 12 weeks to December 22 driven by retail price increases, with volumes slightly down despite a tough comparative figure of 9.2% for the same period a year earlier.

In Ireland, revenues were 2.1% up on a comparable basis, although the reported sales figure was down due to fewer trading days as a result of a switch from monthly to weekly accounting to bring it into line with the GB division.

Overseas growth was even stronger, with revenues in France up 4.7% and those for its International division 5.6% ahead. Both figures were also underpinned by price rises, but with International sales also benefiting from volume growth.

Overall, revenues were 2.8% up at actual exchange rates, and 1.3% ahead when adjusted for currency changes, at £311.8m. Comparable group revenue excluding the impact of the accounting change in Ireland was 2.3% higher on a constant exchange rate basis.

Britvic chief executive Simon Litherland said: “We delivered a robust Q1 performance in each of our core markets despite a challenging consumer environment.

“We continued to make good progress implementing our new strategy and remain on-track to deliver our cost reduction initiatives as planned this year.

“Trading in the first few weeks of Q2 is ahead of last year, and we remain confident that EBIT this year will be within the range of £148m to £156m, which we communicated at our preliminary results in November.”

Britvic announced in May last year that it planned to close its factory in Chelmsford, which makes soft drinks in cans, glass and plastic bottles, putting more than 200 jobs at risk.

It also said it was closing its Pennine Spring water factory in Huddersfield with the loss of a further 40 jobs as part of a reorganisation aimed at cutting costs of £30m a year.

The group said in November that the restructuring process was due to be largely completed by the second quarter of 2014, with the Chelmsford and Huddersfield sites due to close by this May.

Work from the two plants will transfer to other sites in the UK, Ireland and France, with Britvic’s other UK locations including major operations in London, Norwich and Leeds.

Britvic has an association with Chelmsford stretching back almost 150 years. The present factory was built in 1954 and until 2012 the group also had its head office the city. It is now based at Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire.

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