Nichols, the maker of Vimto drinks, says the UK market will "remain challenging" in 2017

Courtney Goldsmith
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Chairman John Nichols and chief executive Marnie Millard are having no problems pushing the Vimto brand in the UK
Chairman John Nichols and chief executive Marnie Millard are pushing UK sales of the Vimto brand higher (Source: Nichols)

Nichols, the maker of Vimto and Sunkist drinks, said the UK soft drinks market will "remain challenging" throughout 2017 ahead of its annual general meeting (AGM) today.

Despite challenges due to currency-related cost inflation, the drink maker said its Vimto brand continues to outperform the market in the UK.

While Nichols reported UK sales for the first quarter up by 3.4 per cent, Britain's soft drinks market as a whole grew only 1.2 per cent, according to data from research firm Nielsen.

Read more: No sugar rush here: Soft drinks industry driven by low and no sugar drinks

The group said the first quarter has been "busy" for sales of Vimto concentrate to the Middle East ahead of Ramadan, which starts at the end of May. Phil Carroll, analyst at Shore Capital, said this point is the key element of Nichols' statement.

Sales to Africa have maintained growth momentum from 2016, which the firm anticipated.

Nichols' full-year earnings are expected to be in line with market expectations.

Carroll said: "Overall, a solid statement from Nichols, in our view, at an early stage of the year. We leave our forecasts unchanged so we are expecting profit before tax of £32.8m, growth of 8 per cent which translates into earnings per share of 71.2p, also growth of 8 per cent."

Read more: Vimto sends Nichols' sales fizzing ahead of its rivals

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