THE chief executive of Irn-Bru manufacturer AG Barr has declared that it is weathering tough conditions in the UK supermarket sector well, after the company reported strong sales growth.
AG Barr yesterday told the stock market that it anticipated sales revenue in the six months to July 27, the first half of its financial year, would be 5.6 per cent higher than in the same period of 2013 at about £135 million.
It highlighted the fact that its sales growth "continues to be well ahead" of the UK soft-drinks market.
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The company noted that figures published by market researcher Nielsen, for the period from January 26 to July 12, showed year-on-year growth of 1.6 per cent in the value of sales of soft drinks, with volumes down by 0.3 per cent.
Highlighting tough conditions in the market for "take-home" soft drinks, AG Barr chief executive Roger White said: "It is a competitive market-place. The supermarket industry is well known to be having a difficult time at the moment.
"We have weathered the conditions well so far."
AG Barr, based at Cumbernauld near Glasgow, highlighted the benefits of recent hot weather.
However, Mr White also flagged tough comparative sales figures, noting that warm weather in the UK in 2013 had lasted from about mid-June through to that October.
Commenting on the outlook, AG Barr said: "We are now in a period characterised by tough year-on-year comparative trading.
"However, recent and current good weather, as well as the execution of a strong sales programme, continue to underpin our trading.
"We anticipate that the soft-drinks market across the second half of the year will continue to be highly competitive but we expect to deliver another year of good growth given our sustained investment in brands and innovation."
Mr White said he was "very happy so far" with AG Barr's performance against last year's tough comparative sales figures.
However, he added: "We have still got a number of months of very tough comparisons to go so [it is] still early to sing from the hilltops."
He signalled a strong sales performance from all of AG Barr's core brands in the first six months of the financial year, including Irn-Bru, Rubicon, the Barr-branded range of carbonated drinks, and Strathmore mineral water.
The company said promotional price competition in the soft-drinks market remained intense, but added that its profit margins remained in line with management expectations.
Shares in AG Barr rose 9p to 632p yesterday.