Nichols said it has maintained its operating margins in the UK

Nichols said it has maintained its operating margins in the UK

Nichols has said that it expects full-year 2011 profits to be significantly ahead of last year, despite the continued downturn affecting the UK economy.

The Vimto soft drinks maker said it has maintained its operating margins in the UK, despite raw material cost inflation and an "exceptionally high level of promotional activity". Sales for the year to the end of December climbed by 18%, Nichols said in a trading update today (6 January).

"This performance is ahead of our internal expectations, has been achieved against strong prior-year comparatives (16% uplift on 2009) and despite the continued downturn affecting the UK economy," the company said.

"Once again our brands have outperformed the soft drinks market in the UK and our strong and well-established international business continues to deliver significant year-on-year growth," it added.

This month, Nichols will launch a range of Weight Watchers' low-calorie cordial and fruit juice drinks in the UK and Ireland. The firm made the initial announcement in November, after being awarded exclusive rights to produce the range under the Weight Watchers' brand.