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Robinsons squash buoys Britvic as sales hit by pub closures

Sales of child-friendly brand Fruit Shoot were affected by the lockdown, the company said, as people stayed at home.

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Sales of Robinsons squash jumped in April as shoppers bought more drinks to consume at home (Britvic/PA)

Sales of Robinsons squash jumped in April as shoppers bought more drinks to consume at home (Britvic/PA)

Sales of Robinsons squash jumped in April as shoppers bought more drinks to consume at home (Britvic/PA)

Soaring demand for Robinsons squash from UK households has helped to buoy soft drinks giant Britvic after it was hit by pub closures in the face of coronavirus.

The company, which also makes J2O and Tango, said Government restrictions which have caused pubs to shut their doors have had a “significant impact” on its out-of-home sales.

However, it said shoppers have bought more packs of soft drinks to consume at home in recent months, with Robinsons’ sales jumping by almost a quarter – 24.9% – in April compared with the same month last year.

Meanwhile, sales of child-friendly Fruit Shoot were hit by the lockdown, diving 24.1% in the four weeks to May 2, as people stayed at home.

However, sales of carbonated brands such as Pepsi, Tango and 7Up increased, with sales of the latter jumping by 51.8% over the same period.

The outbreak also hit sales of J2O and premium brands London Essence Company and Mathieu Teisseire, which typically see a significant proportion of their sales in hotels, bars and restaurants.

The company said that around 40% of sales in the UK and Ireland are usually for consumption outside the home.

Britvic chief executive Simon Litherland said he expects to see a “phased” uplift in sales as pubs and restaurants reopen.

“The Government needs to allow pubs and restaurants to open safely and the operators can then work out how to best operate for themselves,” he said.

“Pubs and restaurants will all reopen at different paces and different dates so it is important for us to remain flexible and continue to adapt.”

He also said he is confident in the firm’s long-term strategy “as consumers increasingly turn to trusted brands”.

He said: “The world is a very different place from the one it was a few months ago and I am proud and humbled by the resilience and dedication shown by the entire Britvic team.

“Our priorities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic have been clear: protect our employees, deliver for our customers, support our communities and maintain our financial strength.

“We entered the Covid-19 crisis with strong momentum, having delivered a robust first-half performance, which continues our track record of consistent delivery since 2013.”

The company hailed its strong first six months but said it now expects earnings to take a hit of between £12 million and £18 million each month because of the pandemic.

Britvic reported a 1.4% increase in revenue to £698.8 million for the six months to March 31 as profit margins also improved.

PA