News Column

AG Barr boss to retire as sales bubble higher

May 28, 2014

KASMIRA JEFFORD



AG BARR said yesterday its longstanding chairman Ronnie Hanna will be stepping down at the end of the year as the maker of Irn-Bru posted an jump in first quarter sales.


Hanna, who has been chairman for five years and on the board for 11 years, told shareholders of his plans to retire at AG Barr's annual general meeting yesterday.


Non-executive director John Nicolson has become deputy chairman and will replace Hanna as chairman when he leaves at the end of December.


News of his departure came as the Scottish drinks company reported that total sales increased by 5.2 per cent in the 15 weeks to 11 May compared with the same time last year.


The performance was a slight slowdown on the six per cent growth in first seven weeks of the year but ahead of the overall market, which according to Nielson grew in value by 1.9 per cent in the same period.


Chief executive Roger White said increased spending on marketing and advertisements ahead of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games had helped to boost its core brands.


The company, which also makes Rubicon and Orangina, said that while the economy had improved, the retail environment remained as competitive as ever. It said margins were in line with its expectations and remained confident on its full-year targets.


ANALYST VIEWS Interviews by Kasmira Jefford WHAT DID YOU THINK OF AG BARR'S PERFORMANCE IN THE FIRST QUARTER? CHARLES PICK NUMIS Sales growth in the first 15 weeks is a slight slowdown on the six per cent growth seen in the first seven weeks but AG Barr nevertheless grew at 2.74 times market growth in the period. The comparatives will become tougher as this year unfolds but there is confidence in delivering expectations for the balance of the year.


PHIL CARROLL SHORE CAPITAL We believe it has been a solid start to the year for Barr and we leave our forecasts unchanged. In terms of the outlook, the company highlights the ongoing challenges of the consumer environment which remains volatile but it is confident of delivering on its expectations for the year.


DAMIAN MCNEELA PANMURE GORDON AG Barr has made a solid start to year with sales in the first 15 weeks of the year...We expect AG Barr to continue to deliver against its organic growth strategy and should benefit from its sponsorship of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later this year.


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Source: City A.M. (UK)


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