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UK: AG Barr posts 15-week sales rise ahead of merger ruling

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  • Total sales up by 2.4% in 15 weeks to 12 May
  • Britvic merger attraction “not changed”
  • Outlook “remains highly competitive”

AG Barr has outpaced a sluggish soft drinks market and posted an increase in sales in the first 15 weeks of its financial year.

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Total sales climbed by 2.4% from 27 January to 12 May, the UK soft drinks maker said today (28 May). In the overall UK soft drinks market, sales were flat over the same period due to bad weather and a strong prior year performance, Barr said, citing Nielsen figures.

The Irn Bru maker is waiting for the Competition Commission to rule on it proposed merger with Britvic, which was referred to the authority by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in February. The verdict is due in July, however today Barr said it will receive notice of its provisional findings next month.

“The strategic attraction of the merger ... has not changed and the board will accordingly reconsider the transaction once the Competition Commission findings are available,” the company said.

Meanwhile, Britvic announced during half-year results last week that it plans to close three UK facilities, including two bottling plants. One analyst said this reduced the chance of a deal with Barr from 30% to 10%.

Barr today said its core brands are performing well despite bad weather in the UK, while its new Milton Keynes production facility will start undergoing initial tests and checks in eight weeks.

Looking ahead, Barr, which holds its AGM in Glasgow today, warned the market place will “remain highly competitive”.

In morning trading, Barr's share price on the London Stock Exchange was up by 1%.


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