Summer sun helps drinks firm A.G.Barr post profit rise


LONDON (Reuters) - A.G. Barr (LSE:BAG) posted a 12 percent rise in first-half profit as Britain's sunny summer weather helped drive up sales of its soft drink brands like Irn-Bru and Rubicon.

The firm, which in July had an improved offer rejected for an all-share merger with larger rival Britvic (LSE:BVIC), said on Monday pretax profit in the six months to July 28 was 16.6 million pounds, up from 14.8 million a year ago.

That figure was in line with analysts' consensus of 16.65 million pounds, according to a Reuters poll.

First-half sales of brands including Rubicon, Orangina, and Irn-Bru, the fizzy orange drink that outsells Coca-Cola in Scotland, rose 5.8 percent to 128.7 million pounds, ahead of 4.5 percent for the total soft drinks market, according to Nielsen.

The market growth rate in the second quarter was more than double that of the first quarter as Britain bathed in sunshine, boosting trade for retail and consumer goods firms.

A.G. Barr, which competes with the likes of Britvic, Nichols (LSE:NICL) and Coca-Cola, said it was confident of meeting its full-year expectations, although it expected second-half trading to remain challenging as industry price promotions intensify.

Shares in the company closed at 525 pence on Friday, up 15 percent on a year ago, valuing the business at 614 million pounds.

(Reporting by Neil Maidment; Editing by Paul Sandle)

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