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UK: Britvic plans US distribution boost as Q1 sales rise

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  • Q1 group sales up by 4.8% to GBP303.2m (US$481.5m)
  • GB sales rise by 5.4%
  • International sales up by 35.6%
  • Group volumes increase by 1.2%

Britvic has reported a slight rise in Q1 sales and unveiled plans to further expand its Fruit Shoot range in the US. 

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Net sales grew by 4.8% to GBP303.2m (US$481.5m) from 1 October to 23 December, the UK soft drinks maker said in an interim management statement today (23 January). Group volumes increased by 1.2% over the same period.

Britvic also revealed it has agreed with PepsiCo Americas Beverages to up US distribution of its Fruit Shoot brand from nine to 30 states by this summer. The deal is a widening of Britvic's plans to franchise Fruit Shoot concentrate among bottlers in the US, that an analyst last year said could be "transformational" for the company.

A separate agreement with PepsiCo South West Europe will see Fruit Shoot available across Spain, starting this spring, Britvic said.

It is a turnaround in fortunes for the brand, which last year cost Britvic up to GBP25m in a recall caused by a faulty cap. Fruit Shoot is already showing signs of recovery, and its reintroduction into the Netherlands helped drive Britvic's Q1 international sales up by 35.6%, the company said.

The Great Britain market also showed some green shoots after a damp 2012. The region posted a 5.4% sales increase in the first quarter and a 2.1% volumes increase over the same period, Britvic said.

Executives last year branded fiscal 2012 “challenging”, with full-year net profits down by 19.3%, mainly due to wet weather in the UK and Ireland and the recall.

Below is a breakdown of the Britvic's Q1 regional sales performance:

GB Carbonates +9.2%

GB Stills -0.7%

GB Total +5.4%

International +35.6%

Ireland -9%

France -2.4%

Britvic CEO Paul Moody said: “In GB we have delivered strong carbonates revenue and market share growth, continued to increase Robinsons share of the squash market and are on track with the Fruit Shoot return to market plan. The performance in both France and Ireland has been encouraging.”

This is likely to be Moody's last quarter in charge of Britvic if the company's planned merger with AG Barr goes ahead. Barr CEO Roger White is expected to take control of the new entity, Barr Britvic Soft Drinks, with Moody's retirement announced last year.

The merger is still awaiting approval from the UK's Office of Fair Trading, but Britvic said today it still expects the deal to complete on 26 February.

Britvic's shares were up slightly in early trading.

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


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