Belfast Telegraph

Britvic hit by big freeze as drink volumes slump

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 soft drinks group, whose 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 big freeze.

Britvic, which owns the rights to sell Pepsi products here, also reported a 0.2% decline in volumes of carbonated drinks as a result of more promotions by competitors.

But it 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 €237m (£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. It said its UK take-home volume sales increased by 3.4% in the quarter, although its market share remained flat.

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

Earlier this month it emerged that 12 people are to lose their jobs with the closure of a Britvic distribution plant in Co Tyrone.

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