Nichols changes CEO, pays divi despite revenue fall

Shares of Merseyside-based Vimto firm Nichols plc rose 5% on Wednesday after the group said it will reinstate dividend payments and that CEO Marnie Millard will leave on December 31 after seven years at the company and be succeeded by chief operating officer Andrew Milne.

The news came as Nichols said revenue for the half year ended June 30 fell 17.3% to £59.2 million and profit before tax fell 78.2% to £2.9 million.

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

On trading, Nichols added: “Ahead of the worldwide introduction of restrictions on the movement of people and requirements for social distancing measures, the group’s revenue progression was strong with Q1 reporting a 6.2% increase versus Q1 in the prior year. 

“Q2 revenues, however, experienced a 35.2% decrease compared to the prior year Q2 …

“The group has been impacted by the effects of Covid-19 in both the carbonates and still product categories …”

On its dividend policy, Nichols said: “The board made the decision to withdraw the final dividend (28.0p) for 2019 in March 2020 due to the uncertainties concerning the financial impact of Covid-19.

“In the context of dividend policy and payment, it is our intention to consider the two financial years 2019 and 2020 as a single review period given the overlap of the two years in terms of dividend payments.

“We paid an interim dividend of 12.4p in August 2019.

“As a result of the Adjusted Profit After Tax in H1 2020 and our strong cash performance we are now able, with confidence, to reinstate the value of the final proposed dividend from 2019 of 28.0p as the interim dividend for 2020.”