• FY like-for-like net profits climb by 15.5% to GBP15.3m (US$23m)
  • Net sales in 2012 increase by 9% to GBP107.8m
  • FY operating profits rise by 13%, hitting GBP20.5m
  • UK net sales up by 9%
Nichols performed better in the UK than the overall market

Nichols performed better in the UK than the overall market

Nichols has bucked weaker trends in the UK soft drinks market to post a healthy jump in full-year sales and profits.

In preliminary results released today (7 March), net profits in the 12 months to the end of December increased by 15.5% to GBP15.3m (US$23m). Net sales increased by 9% to GBP107.8m over the same period while operating profits rose by 13%, hitting GBP20.5m.

The company did not release fourth-quarter results, but the numbers matched a trading update released in January that predicted group profit and earnings per share to be "significantly ahead" of market expectations.

Results were weaker than last year's FY, in which Middle East sales helped push net profits up by 23% and net sales up by 18%.

“Nichols delivered a very good performance in 2012 against a backdrop of tough comparatives and a challenging UK consumer environment,” Nichols chairman John Nichols said. “Driven by the strength of our brands and continued international penetration, the group once again delivered double-digit growth in profit, earnings per share and cash.”

UK sales were up by 9% year-on-year, outpacing the UK market's overall 3% growth, which was badly affected by record rainfalls. Nichols said the performance was driven by strong Vimto sales and new products such as Levi Roots and the Weight Watchers range of soft drinks.

Sales in the Middle East region were flat on last year partly due to the timing of shipments at the end of 2012 as well as strong comparatives, Nichols said.

The company's share price was up 0.5% in morning trading.

Separately, the firm announced today that CEO Brendan Hynes will leave the company after ten years to "pursue a non-executive portfolio career". He will be replaced by Marnie Millard, the MD of Nichols’ UK soft drinks business.

Hynes, who had previously been Nichols' finance director, became CEO in late-2007.

To read the company's official results statement, click here.