Robinsons squash and J2O maker Britvic has posted a leap in annual profits as pandemic restrictions eased, and forecast further progress over the year ahead despite cost pressures.
The drinks giant reported pre-tax profits of £142.9 million for the year to September 30, up from £111.2 million the previous year.
Its first-half trading was hit hard by lockdowns, but the group saw a marked bounceback in the final six months as restrictions eased and hospitality reopened.
Following a 12% tumble in interim sales, revenues ended the year 6.5% higher at constant exchange rates, at £1.4 billion.
The group said while out-of-home sales have not yet returned to pre-Covid trade, demand elsewhere is back to levels seen in 2019, such as for multi-pack drinks, thanks to the trend for staycationing over the summer.
Britvic said it is facing challenges from soaring costs and supply chain disruption, but said it has been able to “successfully navigate” the problems so far to keep its products on retailers’ shelves.
Chief executive Simon Litherland said: “This year we have recovered strongly from the effects of the pandemic, with underlying revenue, margin and profit all in growth.
“While there are multiple operational headwinds leading to increased inflation, we are confident we will mitigate them through a combination of our agile and resilient supply chain, revenue management and cost-saving actions.
“In 2022 we anticipate making further progress with revenue, profit and margin ahead of 2021.”
The group said it has put in place contingency supply arrangements for certain key raw materials and ingredients, in case of severe supply disruption.
“Our significant investment in supply chain capability has provided a high level of operational resilience during even the most challenging times and gives us confidence we can meet future demand,” it added.
The group said that, across Great Britain, it has delivered growth across its brands, with its mainstream carbonated drinks – Pepsi Max, 7UP Free and Tango – having an “excellent year” and growing revenue and retail sales by value.
Its so-called socialising brands, such as J2O and Fruit Shoot, have also returned to growth as the on-trade and schools reopened, and as restrictions eased over the year.
Britvic said that, since the year-end, it has seen ongoing robust trading, with sales in the first six weeks ahead on both a one-year and two-year basis.