Britvic sees decline in UK volumes

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Britvic says the recent poor weather took the fizz out of consumer demand for its drinks

Britvic has reported a decline in drinks volumes in the UK as the snowy weather kept people away from pubs and its competitors increased the number of discounted special offers.

The Chelmsford-based group, whose UK brands include Robinsons, Tango and Fruit Shoot, said the amount of still drink it sold was down 3.5% in the final quarter of 2010 as pressures in the challenged pub sector were exacerbated by the weather conditions.

The group, which owns the rights to sell Pepsi products in the UK, also reported a 0.2% decline in volumes of carbonated drinks, as a result of more promotions by competitors and despite the UK launch of American energy drink Mountain Dew.

Britvic said that although the amount of drinks it sold declined, UK revenues increased 0.8% as a result of rising prices. This compares to a 15.4% rise in sales a year ago.

Overall the group reported a sales increase of 20% helped by the acquisition of French business Fruite Entreprises, now known as Britvic France, for 237 million euros (£198m) in May.

Britvic reported strong results in the year to October 3, with UK volume sales of still and carbonates up 3.5% and 10.2% respectively, and said its UK take-home volume sales increased by 3.4% in the quarter, although its market share remained flat.

There was some better news from its Irish business, which last year took a write-down of £104.2 million after the recession caused a 5.4% slump in sales.

It said the Irish business demonstrated “an element of relative improvement” in the final quarter of 2010, with volume sales and revenues in the grocery market up by 2.8% and 0.7% respectively. The rate of decline in the pub and club channel slowed to 7%, it added.

Britvic was upbeat about its future prospects, saying it anticipates an improvement in its performance and remains confident about the outcome for the full year.

The company warned that it expected commodity price rises of between 5% and 6% in the next year, with juice and sugar being particularly affected.

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