COVID-19 and the subsequent closure of the hospitality sector impacted the drinks producer’s sales, down 8.6% to £1.4bn in the year ended 30 September 2020. Adjusted earnings took a greater hit, down 22.6% to £165.8m.
Sales in Great Britain reflected the bulk of Britvic’s business (69%), followed by Brazil (11%) and the Rest of the World (20%).
Premiumisation was a key driver of growth for Britvic as shoppers seek higher-quality ingredients with authentic provenance.
Premium innovation s
The company invested significantly in premium innovations and brand extensions such as Robinsons Cordials, Purdey's multi-vitamin drink and its Mathieu Teisseire bartender range.
Low/no calorie drinks were another stand-out area for Britvic, accounting for 75% of all volume sold globally. In the UK and Ireland, 97% of innovation activity in 2020 was in no/low calorie drinks.
The pandemic triggered significant e-commerce growth, with Britvic focusing on its presence online in response. It outperformed online with retail value growth of 56% compared to category value growth of 48%, increasing its share to over 22% of online grocery sales.
Commenting on the results, chief executive Simon Litherland said: “While none of us would have wished for the challenging circumstances 2020 has brought, I am very proud of how we have responded as a business and delivered on the priorities we set ourselves at the start of the pandemic.
“We entered the COVID-19 crisis in March with strong momentum, having delivered a robust first half performance, and we have continued to perform well in the channels which remained open to us. As a business and as a team, we have repeatedly demonstrated our agility as well as our ability to successfully navigate tough headwinds.”
The drinks manufacturer continued its drive toward great sustainability across its business. Construction commenced on a new recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) production facility as part of a £5m partnership with North Yorkshire-based Esterform Packaging.
Last year Britvic’s engineering team took steps to improve water efficiency across its manufacturing sites, leading to its Rugby cutting on average 30,000 tonnes of water per day.
Despite the threat of COVID-19 forcing many producers to consider shutting down operations, Britvic was confident that the risk of enforced factory closure was low.
Last year the producer implemented additional health and safety measures in each of its factories to reduce the risk of a major supply disruption and implemented contingency supply arrangements for key raw materials.