Drinks manufacturer shrugs off sluggish market

Irn Bru-to-Tizer company AG Barr lifted underlying half-year profits today, despite a “sluggish” market for the carbonated drinks sector.

Irn Bru-to-Tizer company AG Barr lifted underlying half-year profits today, despite a “sluggish” market for the carbonated drinks sector.

Barr said the figure rose 5.7% to £8.7m (€12.7m), although bottom-line profits were slightly lower at £8 million because of the cost of an ongoing programme to consolidate operations in the company’s Scottish heartland.

Progress with the project, which was announced in April, has gone to plan so far with two sales locations at Irvine and Wishaw brought into a new Glasgow operation and work on a new Cumbernauld warehouse well underway.

As well as Irn Bru and Tizer, AG Barr makes Orangina under licence from brand owner Cadbury Schweppes and has developed more fruit-based drinks through the St Clements Squeeze and Simply brands.

Although turnover was flat at £66.3m (€97.4m) in the six months to June 30, Barr said it achieved further improvement in market share of Irn Bru and Diet Irn Bru.

Energy and oil-related costs increased during the period, but the company said it maintained margins through cost controls, efficiency gains and some “modest” price increases across its portfolio.

Turnover in the second half of the year has been in line with expectations, helped by a year-on-year improvement in the weather.

The company added: “Although competition in our key sectors remains particularly intense the combination of our plans for existing brands and the ongoing development of new products and partnerships should allow us to meet market expectations for the full year.”

Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of 9.75p a share, an increase of 5.4% on a year earlier.

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