First quarter sales down 5.9% at Vimto maker

Merseyside Vimto maker Nichols says sales in the first three months of 2024 are down 5.9% to £38.8m but still projects ‘profitable growth’ for the full year. Tony McDonough reports

First quarter sales are down 5.9% at Vimto maker Nicols


Softs drinks maker Nichols is reporting a 5.9% fall in sales to £38.8m in the first quarter of 2024 but insists trading is “in line with management expectations”.

In a trading update to coincide with its AGM, the Newton-le-Willows-based maker of the Vimto brand and other soft drinks said it expects to deliver “profitable growth” for the full year.

Nichols is also behind the SLUSH PUPPiE Feel Good, Starslush, ICEE, Levi Roots and Sunkist brands. Its products sell across the UK and in more than 70 countries.

Vimto is particularly popular in the Muslim world during the holy month of Ramadan. It provides a quick boost of sugar-filled energy following the dawn ’til dusk fast.

In March stock market-listed Nichols reported revenues for the 12 months to December 31, 2023, had risen 3.5% to £170.7m. Pre-tax profits rose 75.3% to £24.3m.

In the latest statement Nicols said strong growth in the UK packaged business, where it sells to major retailers and wholesalers, was offset by an anticipated decline in international revenue due to the phasing of shipments and strong prior year comparatives.

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UK Packaged revenues increased by 6.8% to £20.4m, driven by an underlying volume increase of 4.4% over the period. The Vimto brand continued to grow in value largely reflecting new product innovation and increased distribution.

International packaged revenues decreased by 23% to £9.8m, reflecting the timing of shipments into the Middle East and reduced volumes in Africa, which benefited from one-off launch volumes into Ivory Coast during the same period last year.

In its out-of-home (OoH) division, which supplies its products to hospitality outlets such as cafes, bars and hotels, Nicols saw revenues decline by 6.2% to £8.6m, reflecting the withdrawal from unprofitable accounts in the second half of 2023.

It adds OoH business continues to show improved profitability as the benefits of the strategic review are realised.

Concluding, the update said: “The board remains confident that the group, underpinned by the strength of the Vimto brand and the group’s diversified international business model, is well placed to deliver profitable growth in the coming year.”

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