AG Barr has reported a 14% net sales rise for 2008, boosted by its flagship Irn-Bru drink and the takeover of Rubicon.

Net sales reached GBP169.7m (US$240.7m) for the 12 months of 2008, the Scottish soft drinks firm said today (30 March). Net profit crept up by 1.2% to GBP17m, compared to GBP16.8m in 2007.

Underlying sales, excluding the acquisition of the Rubicon juice business for GBP59.8m last August, rose by 6.6% for the year, AG Barr said. The group's flagship Irn-Bru brand saw sales increase by 8%.

Irn-Bru's success comes against a soft drinks market down 2% in volume and flat in value for 2008, according to the firm, which cited Nielsen data.

"Despite the challenging economic climate our business is financially strong and well capable of continuing to deliver sustainable growth," said CEO Roger White.

"Like for like sales in the first seven weeks of the new financial year are ahead of the same period last year," he added.

The group said that the UK soft drinks market remains resilient to recession, but warned that "the depth and duration of the recession are however potentially unprecedented and we cannot be certain that our own industry will not to some degree be affected".