Suntory agreed to buy Ribena and Lucozade this month

Suntory agreed to buy Ribena and Lucozade this month

The head of Gerber Emig has argued that Suntory Food & Beverage's arrival is “a good thing” for the UK soft drinks industry.

Speaking exclusively to just-drinks today (24 September) Andrew Biles, CEO of the UK-based Gerber, said the Suntory unit's takeover of GlaxoSmithKline brands Ribena and Lucozade was “all in the natural course of acquisitions". However, Biles, whose company agreed to merge with Dutch bottler Refresco earlier this year, disagreed that Suntory will use the acqusitions as a base for UK expansion.

“I don't think they (Suntory) are buying Ribena and Lucozade so they can compete in the UK market,” he said on the sidelines of the British Soft Drinks Association annual lunch in London. “I think what they will do is try to take the brands into new markets and build their sales.”

This month, Suntory Food & Beverage agreed to buy Lucozade and Ribena for GBP1.35bn (US$2.11bn)

Biles also said Gerber's merger with Refresco should complete in November pending approval from the competition authorities. The deal will create “a leading pan-European bottler of soft drinks and fruit juices”, Gerber has said.

Biles today said the merger will be “complimentary”.