SOFT drinks firm AG Barr, maker of the famous Irn-Bru brand and others including Rubicon Funkin cocktails, attributed the “exceptional British summer weather” in recent weeks for solid first-half results but warned of challenges ahead amid the cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation.

The Cumbernauld-based company, which last year announced plans to acquire plant-based milk business Moma Foods over the next three years after acquiring an initial 60 per cent stake in the company, reported expected first-half revenue of around £157 million for the 26 weeks ending July 31.

In a trading update, AG Barr said this represents year-on-year revenue growth of 19% on a like-for-like basis, excluding the revenue contribution from Moma Foods. In the comparable first half last year, a 27-week period, the firm reported revenue of £135.3m.

The update noted that the “strong revenue performance reflects the continued positive momentum across all business units – Barr Soft Drinks, Funkin and Moma”, adding: “Our growth has been driven by ongoing brand investment and the successful execution of our pricing and promotional activity.

“Trading performance further benefited from the year-on-year Covid recovery across the market, particularly in the on-trade and out-of-home sectors, as well as the exceptional British summer weather in recent weeks.”

However, it warned of upcoming headwinds related to the UK’s current high level of inflation, with economic conditions becoming increasingly challenging for consumers and industry alike.

“Across the second half of the financial year we will continue to invest behind our brands and believe that our strategy will support continued growth,” the updated noted. “At the same time we will take appropriate mitigating action to limit the full year impact of cost inflation.

Roger White, chief executive, commented: “Our brands are performing well and our business has continued to demonstrate both its resilience and flexibility.

“While not immune to the current cost inflationary pressures experienced across the UK, looking forward into the second half of the financial year we remain confident of delivering a full-year profit performance ahead of the prior year and in line with board expectations.”

Analysts at Shore Capital alluded to “impressive revenue growth” for AG Barr, the producer of a stable of some of the UK’s leading drinks brands. “Growth is underpinned by a combination of price, mix, Covid tailwinds and volume growth,” said Darren Shirley, equity research analyst.

“Our FY23 forecasts remain unchanged post the update with, we believe, AG Barr navigating tough times to very good effect. Leading brands, healthy cash generation and a strong balance sheet – £75.6m net cash – leave AG Barr well very placed for the future.”

In March, AG Barr unveiled pre-tax profits up by more than 62% to £42.2m on an 18% increase in revenues to £268.6m.

The chief executive said at the time: “Our business and brands have once again proven their resilience in uncertain and often challenging circumstances.”

Shares in Barr closed yesterday’s trading at 546p.