While the wider soft drinks market has suffered in the first quarter of the year (the dismal weather stopped Brits sipping cans of pop outside), AG Barr’s cup runneth over.
Consumers hoping to forget the miserable weather have been buying its Rubicon juice range for a little taste of sunshine. And over in Scotland, Irn-Bru remains AG Barr’s lurid orange money-spinner: the equivalent of 12 330ml cans of Irn-Bru are drunk every second.
In its trading update today AG Barr released no hard figures but did reveal that total revenue growth in the 15 weeks to May 12 was up by 2.4% on the same period last year. The business ‘continues to perform well despite the weather, economic challenges and significant increases in competitor promotional activity,’ said the statement.
This update is released a week before the Competition Commission is due to give its ruling on AG Barr’s merger with fellow drinks maker Britvic. The deal has been shelved since last year while the authorities pored over the terms.
But something tells MT that AG Barr is about to drop its offer price… In the months since the merger was first mooted, Britvic sales have not been doing well. Indeed, AG Barr has taken the opportunity to point out that while it has had a stirring start to the year, Britvic’s revenues actually fell 4.2% over the same period. And last week, Britvic CEO Simon Litherland announced a £30m cost-cutting plan to try and keep the firm in the black.
Nevertheless, AG Barr maintains it still wants the merger to go ahead. The deal would see the Irn-Bru and Tizer maker pick up the Robinsons squash and R Whites lemonade brands. And Britvic is also in the enviable position of having an exclusive licence to sell a number of PepsiCo brands. The deal would create a global drinks giant, overseen by AG Barr CEO Roger White (although Britvic are pushing to have their Litherland at the helm).
One thing is for certain: even if the Competition Commission gives the go ahead next week, this tale is still going to have more twists and turns than a curly straw as both sides wrangle for a better deal. Break out the Irn-Bru: these execs are going to need it.