Nichols plc has posted a healthy lift in full-year profits, with sales inching upwards in 2007.

The UK-based soft drinks company, which owns the Vimto soft drinks brand, said today (18 March) that net profit last year rose by 34% year-on-year to GBP5.7m (US$11.5m). Factoring in a GBP2m gain the year before last from the sale of the Balmoral coffee business, however, saw total net profit slip against the GBP6.3m delivered in 2006.

Sales edged northwards in 2007, up 5.7% to GBP55.3m, while operating profit hit GBP7.7m from GBP5.4m a year earlier.

Flagship brand Vimto grew its overall UK share last year, both domestically and in its export markets.

The company said it was "very pleased" with its performance in 2007, "despite trading being difficult in a highly competitive sector, exacerbated by the extremely poor summer weather last year".

"2008 is Vimto's centenary, so I am delighted to report in this very special year that in 2007 the group continued to perform strongly and we produced an excellent set of results," said company chairman John Nichols. "We are also confident of delivering further progress in the coming year."

Nichols' board has recommended a 6.1% rise in the final dividend to GBP0.690 per share. The dividend, once approved, will be paid on 15 May to shareholders of record on 18 April.

Nichols spent most of last year in an offer period, with Irn-Bru producer AG Barr believed to be the front runner to buy the company. The offer period closed in September, with Nichols taking itself off the market. The company noted an exceptional charge for the year of GBP0.98m, which related to offer period costs, as well as the integration of Scotland-based Cariel Soft Drinks, which Nichols bought in April last year, into its dispense systems operations.