Nichols flags strong growth, announces chair's retirement
Nichols said in a trading update on Wednesday that revenue for the March quarter continued to grow strongly, increasing 28.9% year-on-year to £39.6m, as its long-standing chairman announced his retirement.
The AIM-traded soft drinks maker, which was holding its annual general meeting later in the day, said the Vimto brand had outperformed the wider UK soft drinks market, achieving growth of 10.8% in value terms for the year-to-date, versus 9.8% value growth across the wider UK soft drinks market.
It said its out-of-home route-to-market was continuing to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and had seen significant growth of 1,387% year-on-year given the lockdown restrictions through the first quarter of 2021.
The group's international business had a slower start to 2022 than in the prior year , down 16%, as shipment timings were “severely impacted” towards the end of the quarter by national driver industrial action in Spain due to rising fuel prices, which caused disruption to shipping timetables.
Nichols said the action had now ended, and the group's international shipments had resumed.
Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the quarter totalled £48.3m, down from the £56.7m it recorded at the end of 2021, following completion of its treasury share buyback programme.
“As expected, the group continues to experience significant inflationary pressure, but has plans in place to mitigate these in line with forecasts,” the board said in its statement.
“The group's adjusted profit before tax expectations for 2023 therefore remain unchanged.”
Additionally, after more than 50 years with the group and 15 years as non-executive chairman, the board said John Nichols intended to retire once a suitable replacement was appointed.
“The board's nomination committee has commenced a formal process to recruit his successor, and will ensure in that process the board retains the skills and experience necessary to support the ongoing delivery of the group's strategy,” the directors said.
At 0906 BST, shares in Nichols were up 0.48% at 1,376.62p.