AG Barr’s sales add fizz to flat drinks market

Kasmira Jefford
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AG BARR, the Scottish drinks company behind Irn-Bru, said yesterday sales outperformed the wider soft drinks market in the first three months of the year despite the dismal weather and competition among rivals.

The company, which also makes Rubicon fruit juices, said revenues rose 2.4 per cent in the quarter to 12 May compared with the wider market which was flat in revenue terms in the same period.

“While it is still early in our financial year, our core brands continue to perform well despite the weather, economic challenges and significant increases in competitor promotional activity,” it said.

Wayne Brown, an analyst at Canaccord, said its performance reflected “a material outperformance to Britvic” which saw UK revenues fall 4.2 per cent over the same period.

AG Barr and the rival British soft drinks firm are waiting for the Competition Commission (CC) to decide on whether they can proceed with a merger that would create one of Europe’s biggest drinks firms.

The CC is expected to publish its preliminary findings next week.

AG Barr yesterday said it was still in favour of the merger despite Britvic revealing a £30m cost-cutting plan last week that appeared to cast doubt on the tie-up. The pair will have to return to the negotiating table after the original deal lapsed in February.

Meanwhile, nearly 12 per cent of investors voted against AG Barr’s pay report at its annual general meeting held in Glasgow yesterday, calling for the firm’s long-term incentive plan to have more than the one criteria of meeting an earnings per share target.