Britvic set to put fruit drink back on shelves

Britvic has said that the market “re-entry” plan for its Fruit Shoot product in Britain and mainland Europe is “on track”, following a product recall in the summer which severely hampered the group’s full-year profits.

The international soft drinks producer yesterday reported an 18.8% fall — in constant currency terms — in pre-tax profits, for the 12 months to the end of September, to £84.4m (€104.6m).

Poor summer weather and the partial suspension of Fruit Shoot, after a faulty cap gave rise to health fears, significantly impacted on group performance.

Just last month, the British-headquartered group updated on its full-year revenue performance, as part of a pre-close trading update. That highlighted a 0.8% fall in the group’s annual sales to just over £1.25bn and a 9.6% fall in revenues at its Irish operations to £138.7m.

Management said it did make some progress — with its brands outperforming the British market in Olympic year, expansion being made in the US, and increased volume evident for its French brands.

“Economic conditions in our core markets of Britain, France, and Ireland remained difficult throughout 2012, as consumers were faced with austerity measures, rising domestic bills and a fragile economic environment — all of which adversely impacted their disposable income,” the statement said.

Group chief executive Paul Moody said that despite “some notable successes”, it had been “a difficult year for the group”, adding that “the progress that we made was more than offset by the impact of the Fruit Shoot product recall”.

With regard to Ireland, Britvic said the difficult economic conditions “continued to be a challenge in 2012”.

“The pubs and clubs sector continued to contract and we were significantly impacted by the performance of the third party brands that we distribute through the licensed wholesale business.

“Trading conditions remained difficult in Ireland and we had to take action to reduce costs, including a material reduction in headcount and the outsourcing of secondary distribution.”

The company said it continued to invest in its Irish brands — with MiWadi, Club, and 7-Up retaining their market leading positions and Ballygowan gaining fresh investment.

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