Britvic has reported a 2% rise in soft drinks revenue for its fiscal first quarter, but plans to slash jobs in Ireland in order to cut costs.

Revenue rose to GBP218.6m for the 12 weeks to 21 December, Britvic said today (28 January).

The increase was driven by a 3.8% rise in the soft drinks group's Great Britain (excluding Northern Ireland) and International division. Volumes of still drinks, including the Robinsons brand, grew by 7%, against a market decline of 6%, said the firm, which owns the licence for PepsiCo drinks brands in the UK.

The rises offset a 2.9% revenue decline to GBP49.8m (US$71.1m) at Britvic Ireland for the three months to the end of December, reflecting an underlying drop in euro revenue of 17%.

Late last week, Britvic confirmed that it plans to cut up to 145 jobs in Ireland, predominantly in the Republic, where it bought the soft drinks division of C&C Group for EUR249.2m (US$322.5m) in May 2007.

It said today that Ireland's soft drinks market "continues to suffer from extremely poor and unique macro-economic conditions that began in the spring of 2008, and have deteriorated in the last quarter of 2008". Own-brand volumes slipped by nearly 7% in the last quarter.

Britvic said it expected to save around EUR1m-EUR1.5m in Ireland this year, rising to around EUR7m in 2010. Exceptional costs from group restructuring are likely to reach EUR10m in the current financial year, however.

A number of job cuts are also expected in the GB & International division. Britvic did not offer specific details, but said this would be "minor team restructuring on an area-by-area basis requiring individual consultation".

In its outlook, Britvic said: "Through 2009 we anticipate the GB soft drinks market will remain relatively resilient and the Ireland market particularly challenging. We have continued to grow the top line through strong brand execution within key categories and both volume and value share growth across the channels."

Trading across GB and International has been "very strong" in January, the group said.