Drinks boost

White steps down with surge in profit at AG Barr

Roger White (AG Barr)
Roger White: ‘the company put in an excellent performance’

AG Barr chief executive Roger White signed off his final set of results at the Irn-Bru maker with a hike in adjusted profit and the dividend.

Mr White, who will be succeeded in May by former Saga and Co-op Bank boss Euan Sutherland, said he leaves the Cumbernauld-based business in a “strong financial position”.

Revenue for the year to 28 January grew by 25.9% year-on-year to £400 million, in line with guidance and producing adjusted profit before tax of £50.5m, 16.1% ahead of the prior year and just above forecast.

A full year dividend of 15.05p per share includes the final recommended dividend of 12.40p
and is up 14.9% from a total 13.1p in the previous 12 months.

Speaking to Daily Business Mr White said that when he became CEO in 2004 he had been daunted by the task because of the size and status of the brand.

“It was terrifying. The opportunity to fail was writ large,” he said. “When you are dealing with a national icon everyone has a view.”=

Mr White joined the company in 2002 as managing director and has become part of the fabric of a company that retains links with its founders.

“The relationship with the Barr family has been great. They are very supportive shareholders and very hands off in general terms,” he said.

Acquisitions remain a key part of the strategy, he said, and could be funded from the company’s cash pile. This would be an alternative to returning funds to shareholders via special dividends or a buyback as suggested by analysts. Costs have returned to near-normal levels.

In a statement accompanying the results, he said: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the teams across the group who have worked incredibly hard to deliver this excellent financial performance.  

“With our business in a strong financial position, and our portfolio of differentiated brands poised for further growth, I have every confidence that our proven strategy, our results-driven teams and our well-invested asset base will continue to support long-term growth and value creation.”

Earlier this month the company announced two proposed business reorganisations – changing the route to market and fully integrating the Boost business into Barr Soft Drinks. It will mean the closure of three outlets in England and the loss of 195 jobs. This would improve efficiency.

Jonathan Kemp who has advised the board that, owing to family health reasons, he will step down as a director at the Annual General Meeting on 31 May.

He will continue to lead the commercial function until 30 September and will remain available as required for a further 12 months after which he will retire.

The company said it will recruit a successor but this role will not be an executive director board
position.

The shares advanced 48p, or 9.3%, to 562p as investors threw their support behind the company’s prospects.



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