Essex: Pepsi sales add fizz to Christmas trading at Britvic

STRONG sales of carbonated drinks gave some added fizz to Christmas trading at soft drinks company Britvic, the Essex-based group said today.

In a trading update for the first quarter of its new financial year, Britvic said overall group revenue was 2.5% up on the same period a year earlier, driven by growth in its Great Britain, France and International divisions.

Great Britain revenues were 2.8% ahead, with the company’s products achieving increased share in the take-home market in terms of both volume and value.

Carbonates performed particularly strongly with revenue 5.8% ahead, said Britvic, led by growth for Pepsi which the company produces and distributes in the UK under licence.

Sales of still drinks in Great Britain dipped by 1.7% in revenue terms, but Britvic said this represented an improving trend.

Britvic, whose UK brands include Robinsons, Tango, J2O, Fruit Shoot, Teisseire and MiWadi as well as other PepsiCo brands such as 7UP, added that revenues grew in France by 12.6%, including further increases in volume and value market share for syrups, whhile International revenues were 1.7% ahead.

However, its Ireland revenues fell by 10%, with volumes down 0.2%, although Britvic said half of the revenue decline was attributable to third-party brands, mainly alcohol, which it distributes in the territory.

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Britvic chief executive Paul Moody said: ““Our GB, French and International business units have again delivered positive revenue growth and we continue to compete strongly and effectively in each of our markets.

“We expect the general economic and trading environments to remain challenging but, despite this caution, we are confident in our ability to deliver another solid set of results for the year ahead, in line with our expectations.”

Charles Pick, analyst at brokers Numis, described today’s update as “mixed”, with revenue gains “restrained by another dire performance in Ireland”.

Britvic’s statement gave no update on its plans, announced last July, to relocate its head office from Chelmsford by the middle of this year. It will retain its factory at Widford, just outside Chelmsford.