Optimistic Britvic hails further gains

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cent, Coca-cola

The rehabilitation of one of Britain's top soft drinks firms,
Britvic, has continued over the last 12 weeks with a 4.8 per cent
rise in branded sales, the group announced.

Sales of still drinks brands, including Robinsons and Fruit Shoot, continued to lead the way with a 6.8 per cent in the 12 weeks to 24 December, the group said in a trading update.

Britvic was forced into a certain amount of soul-searching early last year after being caught out by the pace of a consumer shift away from fizzy drinks and on to healthier products.

The bad news prompted more rumours of a private equity buyout, which had plagued the firm since it went public in late 2005.

But Wednesday's update continues the group's improved performance in its second half last year.

Carbonated drinks sales rose 2.4 per cent during the 12 weeks, mainly thanks to a resurgent Pepsi brand and higher prices. Volumes remained stable, however, despite a further 2.6 per cent slip in the market as a whole.

Britvic refused to make too much of the performance. "While this is encouraging for carbonates, we remain cautious regarding the outlook for this category given the continued consumer focus on health and well-being."

Innovation, the group said, would be firmly focused on the stills category, which is expecting to launch Robinsons Smooth Juice and Fruit Shoot 100 per cent juice in the second half.

Britain's fruit juice consumption rose 24 per cent in the year up to March 2006, making it easily the fastest growing soft drinks category, according to newly released figures of the government's latest Expenditure and Food Survey.

Britvic will look to capitalise on this, but also appeared keen to continue growing its international division. Results there have improved recently thanks to better distribution in Denmark and Sweden.

The firm told BeverageDaily.com​ last year it wanted to expand its presence in several Western European markets, notably Scandinavia.

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