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Robinsons owner hopeful for strong summer after lockdown washout

·2-min read

Robinsons and J2O drinks maker Britvic took a heavy knock to sales as the most recent lockdowns on pubs, cafes and restaurants saw the business struggle.

But bosses said they were hopeful for a summer of drinking again and expect to see strong pickup in energy drinks as bleary-eyed commuters start returning to the office.

Sales for the six months to the end of March fell 11.7% to £617.1 million, with pre-tax profits down from £53.6 million to £42.7 million in the period.

There was stronger growth in the company’s At-Home channels – sales in supermarkets and convenience stores – which were up 6.2% compared with the overall soft drinks market, which only grew 1.6% in the period.

Coronavirus – Fri Jan 8, 2021
The Covid lockdowns hit Britvic sales as pubs and restaurants serving its drinks were closed (Tim Goode/PA)

Britvic said this was led by sales of Robinsons, Pepsi Max and 7UP. The company has exclusive distribution rights in the UK for PepsiCo until 2040.

This summer the company will relaunch energy drink Rockstar to increase growth in the sector – which it estimates is worth £1.3 billion.

The company said: “This will include a new brand identity, better tasting liquids with added functional benefits, as well as a major marketing programme.”

Bosses also highlighted the purchase of Plenish – a premium plant-based drinks brand – as they hope to expand into the fast-growing area.

Despite the falls in sales and profits, the company also said it would pay a dividend of 6.5p a share – having scrapped it during the pandemic.

Chief executive Simon Litherland said: “In challenging circumstances, we have delivered a robust first-half performance, demonstrating the resilience and agility of our business.”

He added: “In the second half we plan to rebuild investment behind our brands to ensure we emerge strongly and are best positioned for the recovery as it evolves.

“As lockdown restrictions have started to ease in some of our markets, early trading has been encouraging.”

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