Pepsi adds fizz to Britvic after Irish drink sales decline

 
Kasmira Jefford
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BRITVIC shares enjoyed a 3.44 per cent rise yesterday after the soft drinks maker and distributor reported a rise in revenues and big market share gains for Pepsi, which it makes and distributes under licence in the UK.

The maker of Robinsons, Tango and J2O said first quarter revenue rose 2.5 per cent at constant exchange rates to £295.2m, driven by growth in its UK, French and international division.

The FTSE 250 company’s carbonated drinks division performed particularly strongly, with a revenue rise of 5.8 per cent driven by Pepsi, which Britvic said had substantially grown its share in the take-home <a href="http://www.pepsi.co.uk"; target="_blank">cola</a> market.

In France, where it owns the Teisseire brand, Britvic grew sales by 12.6 per cent after increasing its share of the syrups market.

However, Britvic suffered a further slump in its Irish business, where it sells own-brand MiWadi and Ballygowan soft drinks.

Revenues fell 10 per cent due to price cuts and a 0.2 per cent dip in sales volumes.

The group said half of the sales decline in Ireland stemmed from weakness at its wholesale business, which distributes third-party brands to pubs and bars.

Britvic’s stills division also delivered a weaker-than-expected performance, with revenues declining by 1.7 per cent in the period.

As a result, analysts at Panmure Gordon downgraded their pre-tax forecasts for 2012 by £4m to £116m for British still and by £6m to £131m for the group’s Irish division.

Chief executive Paul Moody said in a statement: “We expect the general economic and trading environments to remain challenging but, despite this caution, we are confident in our ability to deliver another solid set of results for the year ahead, in line with our expectations.”

The company is expanding in the US where it will start manufacturing its children’s Fruit Shoot brand for the first time. It also signed several deals, that will see it double its Fruit Shoot distribution to six states.