Britvic profits up 18pc as it prepares Fruit Shoot expansion in US
SOFT drinks group Britvic has posted an 18.8pc rise in its annual operating profit and said it is to expand its Fruit Shoot brand in the US.
UK-based Britvic employs over 500 staff in Ireland and has operations in Dublin and Limerick.
The group plans to launch water brand Ballygowan, which is bottled in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, on the UK market in spring 2014 as its sole water brand for Britain and Ireland.
The company produces soft drinks brands including Fruit Shoot, Club and Miwadi here. Its Irish sales picked up thanks to last summer's heatwave but trading remains "difficult" and slipped back in September, it said.
However, a new, 15-year bottling agreement with Pepsico will see Fruit Shoot rolled out across the US.
The concentrate for its Fruit Shoot brand is made here for export markets.
The manufacturing and distribution deal will see Fruit Shoot rolled out to 41 US states in 2014, up from 32 now.
The deal "sets Fruit Shoot up for long-term growth and clearly signals the potential that they and we see for the brand in the States," Britivic's chief executive Simon Litherland said
Britvic said trading in the new fiscal year had started ahead of its first quarter a year ago, helping its London listed shares rise 4.5pc to an all-time high of 635 pence yesterday morning.
The company has embarked on a cost-cutting drive designed to bolster growth in the UK and Ireland and is growing its business overseas. Expansion in Europe has seen the launch of Fruit Shoot in Spain and there are plans to move into India in mid-2014.
The group posted operating profits of £135m (€161m) for the year to September 29, up 18.8pc from £112.7m a year ago and in line with company guidance.
Total group volumes were down 0.4pc in the year but higher average prices helped push up margins, boosting revenue by 4.4pc to £1.32bn.
Britvic said it was on track to deliver £30m of cost savings per annum by 2016, with £10m being reinvested into its international arm. It guided to an operating profit of between £148m and £156m for the new fiscal year.