Vimto firm Nichols lifts divi as revenue hits £133m

Merseyside-based Vimto and soft drinks firm Nichols plc recommended a healthy increase in its final dividend as it announced its 2017 revenue rose 13.2% to £132.8 million.

Profit before tax, pre-exceptional items, edged 0.4% higher to £30.5 million.

Nichols’ other brands include Feel Good, Starslush, ICEE, Levi Roots and Sunkist.

The firm has sales in more than 85 countries, with Vimto popular in the UK, the Middle East and Africa.

John Nichols, non-executive chairman, said in his statement: UK sales totalled £100.8 million, an increase of 11%, which is a strong performance given ongoing challenges in the UK market.

“Once again, the Vimto brand has significantly outperformed the market with sales in 2017 up by 9% compared to the overall UK soft drinks market which was up by 2.2% in the same period (Nielsen year to 30 December 2017) … 

“Sales to our international customers grew by 20.4% to £32.0 million.

“Revenues to Africa were £12.7 million, an increase of 21.2% compared to 2016.

“Despite the reported challenges in Yemen, revenues to the Middle East region were up 13.4% …

“As a reflection of the board’s confidence in the group’s financial position and future growth prospects, we are pleased to recommend a final dividend of 23.4 pence per share (2016: 20.3 pence).

“If accepted by our shareholders, the total dividend for 2017 will be 33.5 pence (2016: 29.3 pence), an increase of 14.3% on the prior year …

“In our international business, we are confident of continued sales growth in Africa, however, the current conflict in the Yemen coupled with a slowdown in the Saudi economy, suggests that sales to the Middle East region will soften in 2018.”