Belfast Telegraph

AG Barr and TUI to provide insight into sugar tax and terror attacks in results

Soft-drinks maker AG Barr will give the City an insight into the impact of the Government's sugary drinks tax next week, while holiday giant TUI will reveal how the recent spate of terror attacks have hit bookings.

Irn Bru maker AG Barr will be looked to for further thoughts on the impact of the Chancellor's sugary drinks tax when it unveils full-year profits on Tuesday.

The sector was sent reeling on the surprise announcement of the new tax to raise around £520 million a year to help fund sports for schools.

Shares in drinks firms plunged on the Budget blow, with AG Barr and rivals such as Robinsons squash firm Britvic left nursing two days of heavy share losses.

The rates of tax have not yet been set, but independent forecasters at the Office for Budget Responsibility have estimated it could add 18p to 24p to the price of a litre of fizzy drink if the full cost is passed on to the consumer.

AG Barr chief executive Roger White has already hit out at the decision, saying it was " extremely disappointing that soft drinks have been singled out".

He added it was the "only food and drink category to have made any real progress in reducing sugar intake in recent years, down 13.6 per cent since 2012".

It is thought that soft drinks makers are now considering taking legal action against the Government through European courts on the basis that other types of food and drink, such as fruit juice and milkshakes, are not included.

Similar taxes in Scandinavia have been successfully challenged.

But in a Treasury Select Committee hearing following the Budget, George Osborne told companies considering a legal challenge to "bring it on" as he said Government lawyers were convinced the new tax is legal.

Annual figures from Cumbernauld-based AG Barr are expected to confirm a challenging year for the group, wh ich warned last September it was unlikely to grow full-year earnings after poor summer weather and an ''extremely demanding'' first half.

It said annual profits were set to be ''broadly'' in line with the previous year, although the group hopes to return to growth in 2016.

Interim results showed the impact of tough trading as pre-tax profits fell 11.3% to £16.9 million.

Sales have staged a bounce-back since the first half, but Barr said in January full-year revenues were down around 1.5%.

The City is expecting underlying pre-tax profits to fall 2% to £4.2 million.

Thomson and First Choice owner TUI will shed light on how a string of terror attacks have impacted bookings when it updates the market on Thursday.

Travel companies have seen trading come under pressure after a number of holiday hotspots were hit by terror atrocities in recent months, including Turkey, Paris, Tunisia and Egypt.

Airline and leisure companies also saw their stocks take a hammering on Tuesday as European markets sunk in the wake of the coordinated terrorist bombings across Brussels.

TUI's shares were the biggest faller on the FTSE 100 index on the day of Brussels bombings, slumping 2.8%.

The firm's trading update will reveal whether bookings have picked up in the three months to March after it revealed last month that summer holidays to Turkey had fallen 40%.

Graham Spooner, investment analyst at the Share Centre, said investors will be casting a keen eye over TUI's trading update to see whether the company expects any "longer-term issues" in the wake of the atrocities across the Belgium capital.

He added that the "UK has been a bright spot for the company" but said there was "some impact recently from events in Turkey and North Africa".

TUI said in February it had got off to a good start to its financial year and kept its guidance for a 10% rise in annual underlying earnings despite market concerns over terrorist attacks overseas.

Its latest update comes just days after rival Thomas Cook said British tourists were delaying booking their holidays amid fears of further terrorist atrocities.

The firm said the business continues to be impacted by a ''volatile geopolitical backdrop'', with the number of summer trips sold for 2016 hitting 40%, down 2% on last year.

It said demand was shifting across the market, with ''significantly lower'' bookings for Turkey being offset by a rising demand for trips to the western Mediterranean, the US and Cuba.

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