Vimto was originally sold under the name Vim Tonic and registered as a health tonic or medicine

Vimto was originally sold under the name Vim Tonic and registered as a health tonic or medicine

As Nichols predicts profits and sales for 2010 to come in ahead of expectations, there seems to be no doubt that the fruity purple beverage known as Vimto has provided the sparkle for the soft drink maker's success.

First manufactured as a squash and later a carbonated soft drink, Vimto is no spring chicken. At nearly a century old, it's hard to believe the beverage, originally sold under the name Vim Tonic, was initially registered as a health tonic or medicine.

Today, the soft drink is associated with the more light-hearted Purple Ronnie character and "Shlurpling The Purple" tagline, and has certainly proved to be the secret of creator John Noel Nichol's success.

The firm recorded profits of GBP4.3m (US$6.8m) in its first-half results in August, from GBP3.2m in the prior year. The figure was predictably driven by sales of its flagship brand Vimto. And, last week, Nichols forecast profits and sales for 2010 to come in "well ahead" of its own internal predictions, with profits expected to be "significantly ahead" of 2009 and above market expectations.

The launch of Vimto Cherry in January may have had an impact on sales, but let's not forget, Vimto is not just a beverage. It has moved beyond drinks and is now also available as Vimto Candy Spray, Vimto Fruit Numbers, Vimto Lollipops and Vimto Ice Lollies.

While Vimto hails from the small town of Timperley in Cheshire and has enjoyed enormous success in the UK, it has certainly stretched its legs since.

In 2009, Nichols' introduced the beverage to South Africa and China for the first time, but one region that has enjoyed slurping the fruity CSD is the Middle East. Vimto has become the drink of choice for Muslims during Ramadam, and a series of quirky advertisements for the brand in 2007 saw sales during the fasting period soar to a staggering 20m bottles.

In the past year, sales of the company's soft drinks in the region have grown by 40% and Nichols appears keen to capitalise on the 90% share it enjoys in the cordial concentrated drinks market there.

Every year, the company launches aggressive marketing campaigns on Arab satellite TV channels that in recent years have become very popular and achieved cult status with viral marketing videos exchanged on the Internet.

There is no doubt that the only way seems to be up for Vimto. And, while Government clampdowns on products targeted at children may have proved a stumbling block for Nichols in the UK, the firm has proved its resilience by responding with the removal of artificial flavours from its range.

And so, as fruity Vimto heads in 2011 sporting a new 'on-the-go' look, chairman John Nichols can be happy that his great grandfather concocted a beverage that certainly has staying power.