AG Barr's drive south adds fizz to sales

IRN-BRU maker AG Barr has been rewarded for pushing its portfolio of soft drinks brands into the English market with a sharp rise in sales.

The group, led by chief executive Roger White, said income for the three months to the end of October were 6.4 per cent higher than in the same period last year. For the nine months, sales are up 11.6 per cent.

"What you are seeing is the momentum that we have behind the core brands in our business," White said. "I can't be too specific, but on a general level, the business is continuing to do well right across the country."

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In September, Barr reported double-digit rises in both profits and sales following an increase in marketing activity aimed at retaining its position in Scotland while raising market share south of the Border. In addition to its iconic Irn-Bru, its brands include Tizer, Strathmore water and Rubicon fruit juice.

White said expansion at Barr's headquarters in Cumbernauld remained on course, with the addition of two new filling machines set to increase capacity for packaging drinks sold in PET plastic bottles. As a result, Barr's older facility in Nottinghamshire will close early next year.

The rise in third-quarter revenues was achieved despite tough comparisons from the previous year, when the business grew by more than 20 per cent. Operating margins were in line with expectations.

White said Barr is offsetting rising costs by investment in new, efficient equipment.