Britvic buys into Ireland

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Soft drinks, United kingdom

UK soft drinks maker Britvic stepped up its expansion overseas
after signing a deal buy to the soft drinks arm of Ireland's
C&C Group.

Britvic said it agreed to pay £169.5m cash for the business, in a deal that will enhance its international division. Also, C&C will then be able to plough funds into its successful Magners cider brand. The move will catapult Britvic to the head of soft drinks markets in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, said Paul Moody, the firm's chief executive. He said the deal was a "great opportunity"​ as Britvic looked for "selective international expansion"​. The firm has said it planned to build up its relatively small international division since it floated on the stock market in late 2005. In Ireland, Britvic will take on C&C's licences for Pepsi and 7UP brands, which it already holds in the UK, as well as the country's number one bottled water brand, Ballygowan. Irish people drink more carbonated soft drinks than anyone else in Europe, swigging 122 litres per person every year. However, a consumer health shift towards juice and bottled water, already in full flow across the water in Britain, has taken hold in Ireland more recently. Britvic said bottled water consumption was rising rapidly, as was interest in functional soft drinks. The firm said it wants to capitalise on this similarity by introducing selected brands in both the UK and Ireland. It also expects to save £14m annually by integrating the C&C business. For C&C, selling off the soft drinks arm will allow it focus on cider and spirits. It recently announced it was trialling Magners cider in Spain and Germany, following the brand's prolific success in the UK last year. Sales at the soft drinks division dropped 1.4 per cent last year, after C&C lost the Danone water brands in November. It said the Irish soft drinks market grew 3.7 per cent by volume in 2006, led by water, sport and energy drinks. Carbonated sales remained largely flat.

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