Soft drinks group AG Barr has reported a 27% jump in net sales for its fiscal half-year, thanks to growing demand for signature brand Irn-Bru and the contribution of the Rubicon drinks business.

Net sales for the six months to the end of July rose by 27% to GBP104.7m (US$166m), compared to GBP82.4m in the same period of last year, Scotland-based AG Barr said today (29 September).

Like-for-like sales, excluding the contribution of the Rubicon drinks business, rose by 11.5% for the half-year.

Flagship soft drink Irn-Bru saw sales revenue rise 6.5% for the period, as AG Barr profited from its strategy to promote the brand more vigorously in England and Wales, as well as in its Scottish homeland.

"We have benefited from some better year on year weather, although not the previously forecast 'barbecue summer'," said group CEO Roger White, adding that the UK soft drinks market fell by 1% in both volume and value for the six-month period.

"The early integration of the Rubicon business has gone to plan and is now beginning to deliver further opportunities to grow the brand across a wider front," White continued. "The acquisition has, to date, been financially enhancing to our business and is also improving our overall business balance across product sectors and geographically."

Net profits for the six months rose by 16% to GBP9.87m, with pre-tax profits up 19.5% at nearly GBP13.5m. Operating profits increased by around a third on the year before, to GBP14.2m.

The only blackspot in the firm's results came for its Strathmore bottled water brand, which saw sales slip 6%.

AG Barr said it remained confident on meeting full-year expectations, but warned: "We anticipate continued volatility in our material costs and expect strong competition in our market place."

The firm bought France-based Rubicon for GBP58.9m (US$93m) in August 2008.

For the full half-year announcement, click here.