Vimto sales help Nichols revenue rise 7% to £142m

Shares of Merseyside-based Vimto and soft drinks firm Nichols plc rose 3% on Wednesday after it said 2018 revenue rose 7% to £142 million and profit before tax rose 4% to £31.8 million.

Final dividend will be up 14.5% to 26.8p.

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

Nichols CEO Marnie Millard said: “The group revenue was driven by our UK business where sales increased by 12.7% to £114.6m, whilst international sales declined in the year to £27.4m, as we anticipated as we went into 2018.

“Despite experiencing a decline within the Middle East, the group maintained its strong gross margin of 45.7% and the growth in gross profit was consistent with our revenue growth at 7.0%, as a result of the continued success of our value over volume strategy.”

Vimto chairman John Nichols said: “Nichols plc delivered a strong performance in 2018, achieving growth in revenue, profit and earnings per share, resulting in a 14.5% increase in the final dividend. 

“The UK sales performance was driven by the strength of the Vimto brand, now in its 110th year and continuing to outperform the wider soft drinks market, in addition to the increasing growth opportunities in the Out of Home sector following successful investment in this area. 

“As a result of the group’s diversified business model, strong portfolio of brands and successful track record, the board remains confident of delivering continued profitable growth.”

In his outlook, the chairman said: “We are well positioned with a diversified business model, a strong balance sheet and remain highly profitable.

“We continue to monitor the ongoing Brexit process, taking all possible actions to reduce the risk and we are confident that the group can maintain its forward momentum in 2019 and beyond.    

“In 2019, we expect our UK business to maintain its positive performance driven by the strength of the Vimto brand and the increasing opportunities in the Out of Home sector. 

“In our international business, we are confident that the long term prospects in the Middle East and Africa remain strong, although the ongoing conflict in Yemen continues to create uncertainty for 2019 …”