Irn-Bru owner AG Barr upbeat as sales surge

 
Kasmira Jefford
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SCOTTISH drinks giant AG Barr said thirst for its soft drinks continued unabated in the final quarter of the year and it expects to post a 6.1 per cent jump in full-year sales.

The owner of Irn-Bru and Tizer said trading in the last three months is expected to be ahead of the overall drinks market, with revenues up by around 5.5 per cent and totalling £252m for the year to 26 January.

This was slightly ahead of analyst expectations, with broker Panmure Gordon forecasting profits of £248m.

AG Barr, which broke-off merger talks with Britvic last summer, said: “This performance is particularly pleasing given the tough prior year comparatives which saw near double digit growth in the second half of last year.”

“Our core brands continue to respond positively to our ongoing investment and development actions despite the increased intensity of price-driven competition in all of the major trade channels,” it added.

The company, which also owns energy drink Rock Star and tropical juice brand Rubicon, has recently finished building a new state-of-the-art factory in Milton Keynes, which investors are betting on to be one of the biggest drivers of growth for the group in the coming years.

Canaccord Genuity analysts said AG Barr’s net debt was also expected to be better than it had anticipated, and lowered its forecasts from £11m to £5m at the end of January.

AG Barr’s shares, which closed up by 4.5p (0.7 per cent) yesterday, have risen by eight per cent in the year to date, and have outperformed the UK market by 6.5 per cent.

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