Irn-Bru maker rallies to bury bad Britvic news

IRN-BRU soft drinks maker AG Barr will draw a line under its aborted merger with Britvic and cheer investors on Tuesday with robust annual results.

Julie Barr from the AG Barr family at their plant in Cumbernauld. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Cumbernauld-based company, which drinks analysts say has been helped by a more “benign” cost environment, is also expected to drive home its plans for expansion outside its Scottish heartland.

Nicola Mallard, drinks analyst with Investec, said: “These results will show it is business as usual for Barr. They always were an organic growth story.

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“Britvic was an opportunity that arose from Britvic’s problems, Barr went for it, but I think that is done and dusted now, all history.”

Wayne Brown, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, said Barr, whose other drinks include Tizer, had had “a strong end to the year” with expected sales growth in the second half of 6.5 per cent versus 5.8 per cent in the first half.

The City believes Barr chief executive Roger White will say the group has seen the early benefits of its new Milton Keynes factory, which is to spearhead its greater distribution capability into areas where it is weak, from north of London to the north of England.

“Barr is currently not a national player, but there are pockets where it is very strong, like Scotland and London,” Mallard said. “They will get more growth in England and Wales from here on in.”

The City consensus expectation is for pre-tax profits at the company to have risen 7 per cent to £37.8 million in the year to end of January, from £35m last time, on turnover up 6 per cent at £252m.