Britvic sales sink after lockdown hit from pub and bar closures

Soft drinks firm Britvic has posted sliding sales for the third quarter after it was hit by the closure of bars, pubs and restaurants during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Robinsons and J2O owner said sales in the quarter to June 30 tumbled 16.3% to £328.9 million.

It said Covid-19 affected trading as it drove a “significant decline” in sales of drinks to be consumed outside the home, such as at bars, restaurants and venues.

This was “partly offset” by strong growth in drinks to be consumed at home, which bolstered its Robinsons squash brand.

Hospitality sites have started to gradually reopen after the Government gave the green light for business to resume on July 4.

However, Britvic said it is currently “too early” to judge the impact of this.

It therefore said it still expects restrictions to affect its earnings by between £12 million and £18 million each month, despite some venues reopening.

Chief executive Simon Litherland said the update demonstrates the full impact of the lockdown on the drinks market.

“We have continued to focus on the clear priorities we set to navigate through the pandemic, which have helped us to manage our business effectively and to deliver a third-quarter performance in line with our expectations,” he said.

“I am pleased with both the market share gains and the performance across the channels open to us; however, in the near term there remains a high degree of uncertainty about the pace and level of full recovery.

“Looking further ahead, I am confident that the strong momentum we built up going into the pandemic will return, and that our long-term strategy will continue to create value for all our stakeholders.”

Shares in the company dipped by 1.3% to 787.5p in early trading on Wednesday.