AG Barr has shrugged off changes to the recipe of Irn-Bru
Sales have risen at Irn-Bru manufacturer AG Barr despite a decision by the firm to cut the sugar content in its drinks.
In an update, the company said it expects to report sales of around £277m for the 12 months to 27 January – up 7.5% on the previous year.
The firm, which last year promised to slash the amount of sugar in its drinks, said 99% of its portfolio would contain less than 5g of sugar per 100ml before the introduction of the soft drinks sugar tax in April.
However, a decision to change the recipe of Irn-Bru sparked a petition in January.
The firm, which also makes Rubicon, Strathmore and Funkin, said “changes in regulation, customer dynamics and consumer preferences” would mean 2018 will be another challenging year.
It said: “This positive revenue performance reflects the continued success of our innovation alongside strong trading execution across our core brands. It is pleasing that we have continued to outperform the total UK soft drinks market and increased our overall market share. Latest IRI available Marketplace data for the 48 weeks to 31 December 2017 saw the market value up 2.7% and volume broadly flat.
“Since our announcement in March 2017 that over 90% of our portfolio would be moving to lower or no sugar, we have extended our innovation and reformulation programme such that we now expect that up to 99% of our portfolio will contain less than 5g of total sugars per 100ml before the implementation of the soft drinks sugar tax in April this year.
“As anticipated, the sugar reduction in regular Irn-Bru in early January 2018 was met with widespread media interest. Our extensive research and testing in the preceding years gave us confidence that we had an excellent taste match and, whilst it is still early days, the consumer response to the new product has so far been encouraging.
“Our balance sheet remains robust, supported by strong free cash flow, and we have continued to invest across the business while also progressing the share repurchase programme we announced in March 2017.
“We have not been immune to the external cost pressures faced by many businesses throughout 2017, particularly in relation to the weakness of sterling, however we remain confident of delivering profit growth for the year in line with our expectations. “