Britvic says strong summer sales to boost annual profit

LONDON (Reuters) - British soft drinks group Britvic nudged up its expectations for full-year operating profit after fine sunny weather in its final quarter helped drum up strong sales.

The maker of Robinsons squash and Tango said on Thursday operating profit would be slightly above the top end of the previously guided 125-131 million pounds range.

Revenue in the three months to September 29, its fourth quarter, rose 12.8 percent to 366.4 million pounds, up from a 4 percent rise in the third quarter, as Britons snapped up more drinks during the hot summer at higher prices.

The firm also benefited from the recovery of its children's drink Fruit Shoot, which had to be recalled in July 2012 due to faulty caps, but whose market share was now back at pre-recall levels and growing.

Revenues were up 13.8 percent in its core British market, 1.8 percent up in Ireland and 13.5 percent higher in France. Full-year revenue rose 4.4 percent to 1.32 billion pounds, in line with market expectations.

Under Simon Litherland, who became chief executive in February, Britvic has launched a big cost savings drive and accelerated expansion overseas in markets including the United States and Spain. That strategy comes after the firm rejected an improved proposal from smaller rival A.G. Barr for an all-share merger in July.

Shares in Britvic, which also makes and sells PepsiCo brands such as Pepsi and 7UP in Britain and Ireland, closed at 600 pence on Wednesday, up 68 percent on a year ago, valuing the business at 1.5 billion pounds.

(Reporting by Neil Maidment; editing by Rhys Jones)

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