VIMTO owner Nichols enjoyed sales growth of 9 per cent last year as it outperformed the wider soft drinks market.
The group, which also owns Panda and has the UK rights to the Sunkist brand, said its total sales for 2012 hit £108 million despite tough trading conditions caused by the washout summer, and said its profits should be “significantly” ahead of the previous year.
It said: “This performance is ahead of the UK soft drinks market and has been achieved against last year’s strong comparatives, a challenging UK economy and record wet weather.”
In a trading update ahead of its full-year results in March, Nichols said sales in the UK were up 10 per cent, compared with growth of just 3.2 per cent for the soft drinks market as a whole. It also reported an 8 per cent uplift in exports.
The Merseyside-based firm added: “Despite another year of significant cost inflation and high levels of promotional activity, we expect, as a minimum, to maintain our operating margins. This has been achieved by a combination of good cost control and ongoing productivity improvements.”
Nicola Mallard, an analyst at Investec, said Nichols once again outperformed the rest of the industry last year. She increased profit forecast for the firm to £20.3m, which would be 12 per cent more than 2011.