Belfast Telegraph

Britvic to cut costs amid inflation concerns

Robinsons squash firm Britvic has ramped up cost-cutting plans as it warned 2017 would be another "challenging" year amid rising inflation from the Brexit-hit pound.

The soft drinks giant, which also bottles Pepsi in the UK, announced it will shave another £5 million off its annual costs.

It posted a better-than-expected 10% rise in pre-tax profits to £151.9 million for the 53 weeks to October 2, but gave a cautious outlook for the year ahead.

Simon Litherland, chief executive of Britvic, said: "2017 will be another challenging year, with difficult trading conditions and input cost inflation for the first time in several years."

The vote to quit the EU and the sugary drinks tax from April 2018 have " created additional uncertainty", he said.

The group is confident of offsetting its higher costs through cost savings, adding next year's underlying earnings were still on track to match forecasts.

Consumer goods giants have been under pressure from the weaker pound and rising commodity prices, with Unilever becoming embroiled in a high-profile spat with Tesco in October after the Marmite maker sought to push through a reported 10% price increase.

Britvic said its UK arm was boosted by the new cherry Pepsi Max containing no sugar, although its still drinks division did not fare so well as Robinsons came under pressure from own-brand rivals.

Revenues roses 5.3% across its fizzy drinks business in Britain and Ireland, but fell 7% for the stills division.

Group-wide revenues lifted 10% to £1.4 billion, or 0.4% higher on a like-for-like basis.

Britvic's shares rose 5% after the results.

Edward Mundy, analyst at Jefferies, said 2017 was set to be a "year of transition for Britvic".