IRN-BRU maker AG Barr has shrugged off the effects of the ‘sugar tax’ and fragile economic conditions to lift underlying pre-tax profits by 2.5 per cent to £45.2 million.

Chief executive Roger White hailed the “flexibility and strength” of the business during a year which saw it phase in a new recipe for its flagship Irn-Bru brand to ensure it was not exposed to the soft drinks industry levy. Since April last year the tax has been applied to producers whose drinks include at least five grams of sugar per 100 millilitres.

Cumbernauld-based Barr reported revenue of £279m for the 52 weeks ended January 26, up 5.6%, with the firm noting that it had significantly increased its share of the UK soft drinks market in volume terms. However the company warned that there is no sign of the ongoing economic uncertainty in the UK easing.

Mr White said: “At the outset of 2018 we set out a clear strategy and specific actions which we believed were required to deliver continued financial success during what we forecast to be a year of significant changes across our industry. I am pleased to report we have delivered another strong financial performance having adapted well to both the circumstances we anticipated and those which were less expected.

“It is with this backdrop in mind that I emphasise the flexibility and strength of our business model, people and brands, all of which continue to deliver consistently.”

Mr White added: “Whilst the uncertainty across the UK economy is likely to prevail for the foreseeable future, we have consistently demonstrated over the long-term that our strategy and execution are fit for purpose and resilient. The markets in which we operate are robust and provide us with continued opportunities to grow.”