Nichols PLC has posted a slight rise in HI pre-tax profit. The soft drinks company said today (10 August) that profit before tax was up by 12% year-on-year to GBP2.25m from GBP2m for the first six months of this year, on the back of a drop in sales to GBP30.5m from GBP46.9m.

In a statement, chairman John Nichols said: "The group is now a much stronger and more focused business with its core brands, particularly Vimto, continuing to perform well in extremely competitive market conditions.

"We expect the market to remain extremely challenging for the rest of the financial year, particularly in the carbonated soft drinks sector, however, we anticipate that our full year results will reflect the progress made in the first half year."

In the last six months, Nichols has acquired the Panda soft drinks brand and in May, Brighton-based Beacon Soft Drinks Limited, a soft drinks on draught business.

"The integration of Panda into our Soft Drinks Operation is largely complete and progressing well," the company said. "Beacon is also trading in line with our expectations and when fully combined with our existing soft drinks dispense operation, Cabana, will strengthen our strong position in the UK's draught soft drinks market."