The UK soft drink producer Nichols has achieved a 10.3% rise in first half underling profits, thanks to sales of it core brands Vimto and Sunkist, driven by warm weather in the spring.

Pre-tax profits, before one-off costs, were £1.82m, compared to £1.65m a year earlier. Turnover was flat at £47.8m, as sales at its hot beverage systems, Balmoral held back overall sales.

However, that company said that costs were down thanks to a restructuring programme, which has seen the company outsourcing of its soft drinks manufacturing business, and close its factory in Stockport, Cheshire.

Chairman John Nichols said: "The board is confident the group is on track to deliver the planned financial improvements in the second half of 2003 and into 2004.

"However, the competitive trading conditions, particularly in our Balmoral operation, remain challenging. Notwithstanding this, we expect our full year results will be broadly in line with current market expectations."