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AG Barr expects further growth

Irn-Bru maker sees off discounters in competitive year for soft drinks

Irn-BruIrn-Bru maker AG Barr defied heavy discounting by its rivals in the soft drinks market to increase sales in the last three months of its trading year.

Sales were up 5% in the period to 25 January following a slower third quarter. Full year revenue is expected to be around £259 million, a year on year growth of about 2%.  Stripping out the impact of lost Orangina revenue, year on year sales growth would be about 3% on a like-for-like basis.

The company said all its brands have performed well across the year in a period of low market growth and fierce competition across the soft drinks market.

Despite the underlying performance it said the market has at times been volatile, with periods of intense competitive trading activity, as brand owners and retailers across varied channels fought for market share.

It said its Commonwealth Games sponsorship and some strong brand innovation helped to support the  brands over the year.

“To underpin margins, action has been taken to proactively manage costs across the business, thus ensuring that the trading decision in the second half, not to participate in some of the more aggressive price promotion, has not impacted overall profit performance,” it said in a trading update.

“Excellent progress has been made in the execution of the operational improvement plans and the commissioning of the new carton and multi packing facilities at Milton Keynes is well under way. This will enable the Tredegar site to close as planned in early February.”

The cash flow position and balance sheet have remained strong and the company it is well on course to meet its expectations for the financial year.

“We are cautiously optimistic regarding the new financial year and at this point expect to see further growth and development across the company, despite the challenging operating environment and market conditions,” it said.

 Full year results will be announced on 24 March.

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