Britvic thinks beyond merger with cost cuts

 
Kasmira Jefford
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BRITVIC is to close two factories with the loss of up to 400 jobs under new plans to bolster its position as a standalone business as the proposed tie-up with rival AG Barr remains uncertain.

New chief executive Simon Litherland unveiled plans to merge its UK and Ireland divisions and make £30m of annual cost savings “to simplify its operating model” and fund its expansion overseas.

The group also said it had struck a deal with Indian consumer goods group Narang to sell Fruit Shoot.

Analysts warned that the plans cast fresh doubt over the merger, even if it is approved by the Competition Commission, which is currently undertaking a review and is expected to make a decision at the end of July.

But Litherland said the strategic changes showed that Britvic was “getting on with running the business” and creating value for shareholders.

His comments came as the soft drinks company behind Robinsons and J20 reported a 28 per cent rise in first-half operating profit to £52m, with revenues up 0.4 per cent to £639m.