The soft drinks manufacturer attributed its sales growth, a rise of 6.9% compared with the previous year, to a strong performance in the UK – up 12.6% to 114.6m. Sales of Vimto alone grew by 12.9%, outshining the total UK soft drinks market growth of 7.4% (according to Nielsen).
Elsewhere in the UK, sales in the out-of-home channel increased by 15.1% compared to the prior year, driven by sales of both dispensed soft drinks and frozen beverage products. Nichols said this reflected the significant investment in that part of our business over recent years.
International sales down
Outside the UK, the beverage manufacturer’s total international sales were £27.4m, down from £31m in 2017.
While the group experienced a 6.5% growth in Africa, sales in the Middle East were down thanks to ongoing conflict in Yemen and the timing of shipments to Saudi Arabia. As a result, sales in this region were down 30% to £9.6m.
Thanks to its strong sales performance across the board, Nichols expected profit to be ahead of last year and at least in line with current expectations of £31.3m before tax. The company’s preliminary results will be announced on 27 February.
Nichols’ trading update included a year in which it invested £4.5m in its Ross-on-Wye site, unveiling a new end-of-line packaging and palletising arm.
The ongoing factory development was to meet the need for growing demand from the out-of-home sector, the company said.
When profiled last June as part of Food Manufacture’s Me and My Team series, Johnson said that the £4.5m investment into the Ross site demonstrated the scale of Nichols’ growth ambitions.
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