Irn-Bru maker AG Barr outperforming tough UK soft drinks market
LONDON, July 25 (Reuters) - Irn-Bru maker AG Barr is on track for another year of growth as it outperformed Britain's overall soft drinks market with a 5.6 percent rise in first half revenue, it said on Friday.
Shares in the firm, whose brands include Rubicon, Orangina as well as Irn-Bru, the fizzy orange drink that outsells Coca-Cola in Scotland and featured in Glasgow's Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on Wednesday, rose 1.3 percent after it said it anticipated sales of 135 million pounds ($229 million) in the six months to July 27.
AG Barr's growth is ahead of the total UK soft drinks market performance in the first half of the year, which saw a 1.6 percent value increase and 0.3 percent volume decline, as measured by market researcher Nielsen.
The firm, whose main rival in the UK is Britvic, said the soft drinks market will continue to be highly competitive in the second half of the year, with intense promotional price rivalry.
But it said its margins were in line with its expectations and it remained confident on its full-year targets.
On Thursday Britvic, which last year rejected an all-share merger proposal from AG Barr, posted a 4.1 percent rise in third-quarter revenue.
In May AG Barr announced the closure of its packaging site in Tredegar, Wales, as well as a 4 million pound investment programme to transfer operations to Milton Keynes. Project plans are now underway and the Tredegar site will close in early 2015.
AG Barr added it was making progress in the recruitment of a new finance director.
Shares in the firm, up 18 percent over the last year, were up 8 pence at 628 pence at 0754 GMT, valuing the business at 737 million pounds. ($1 = 0.5890 British Pounds) (Reporting by Tess Little; editing by James Davey)