Britvic Irish slump worsens

British soft drinks group, Britvic has seen a further revenue decline in Ireland as well as an erosion of its market share here.

The group yesterday issued a strong set of annual figures, with bumper profits ahead of expectations. However, regarding its Irish operations, it said that it continues to see “difficult” market conditions.

In the year to the end of September, Britvic Ireland generated revenues of £128.3m (€162.2m), a 6.3% drop on the £136.9m reported in the previous year. It was the worst performing regional unit— the group also has direct operations in Britain and France and an international distribution network — during the year. Sales volumes in Ireland were down by 1% in the year.

“Market conditions in Ireland remained difficult, with consumers continuing to seek value and a competitive trading environment,” the company said in its annual statement.

Group chief executive, Simon Litherland, added: “The soft drinks market was down, both in volume and value, and we did lose some market share. The carbonates category, in particular, was very competitive and saw a significant amount of price-led promotions.”

However, he added that the group has seen some success with its Club Zero no added sugar range of drinks and an expanded licensed wholesale operation called Counterpoint.

On a group-wide basis, Britvic saw revenue growth of 2.4% in its latest fiscal year, to £1.34bn. In France, Britvic’s revenue dipped by 1.3% to £254.9m, but grew internationally by nearly 16% and by 6% in the British carbonates sector, although was slightly down in the UK still drinks segment.

Mr Litherland said group performance has started slowly in the current financial year, due to increasingly challenging market conditions, but that management is confident of further improving group profitability in the coming ten months.

“Our future prospects are very exciting. We have transformed our business and created the conditions for success with a new culture. We have a clear purpose and aspirational vision,” he added.

Britvic upped its Irish presence seven years ago, via the purchase of the former soft drinks division of C&C. During the year, the Irish back-office functions were amalgamated into the UK operation, with a depot and call centre closing as part of overall cost-cutting initiatives.


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