Cadbury unveils low-calorie fizz after flat year

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Cadbury Schweppes is launching a low-calorie version of its 7Up carbonated soft drink in the US next month in an attempt to prop up sales there. The...

Cadbury Schweppes is launching a low-calorie version of its 7Up carbonated soft drink in the US next month in an attempt to prop up sales there. The 7Up Plus will contain 10 calories and be fortified with calcium and vitamin C.

The announcement came as Cadbury reported a 9% year-on-year increase in sales to £2.95bn in the first half of 2004, boosted by the acquisition of the US gum business Adams. Profit before tax fell 10% to £265m.

European confectionery sales grew 2% and operating profit -- excluding Adams -- by 5%. Sales by Cadbury Trebor Bassett in the core UK market increased 3%.

Analyst Andrew Saunders at Numis Securities said that the results lacked "conviction" in Cadbury's Fuel for Growth strategy. Restructuring could see the workforce cut by 10% and one-fifth of factories closed or sold.

Cadbury's chief executive Todd Stitzer said: "Fuel for Growth is delivering as expected and we are achieving margin growth despite some above-inflation cost increases."