Irn-Bru maker AG Barr upgrades profit outlook as sales fizz

Irn-Bru maker AG Barr has said profits are set to beat forecasts thanks to pubs, bars and restaurants restocking as coronavirus restrictions were relaxed.

The Scottish soft drinks group said trading has been better than expected over the past few months, driven by a bounce-back in the hospitality sector as indoor socialising reopened in late May.

It said it now expects 2021-22 profits to recover slightly above the £37.4 million recorded in 2019-20, before the pandemic struck.

AG Barr said: “At our full-year results on 30 March 2021 we communicated that the business was in strong financial health, with our brands and business poised for growth on a like-for-like basis.

“Trading since then has been better than anticipated, driven by a combination of factors, some Covid-related, including customer restocking, in the hospitality sector in particular, and some associated with underlying brand momentum, such as the positive performance of recent innovation launches.”

AG Barr has seen its Funkin cocktail range benefit from reopening of hospitality (AG Barr/PA)
AG Barr has seen its Funkin cocktail range benefit from reopening of hospitality (AG Barr/PA)

It came as drinks mixer group Fever-Tree also said on Tuesday that sales were ahead of expectations in the first six months of the year, up 36% to £141.8 million, despite logistics problems in the UK and globally.

Firms are being boosted by the return of trade in pubs, bars and restaurants as lockdown has lifted in the UK.

AG Barr said in May that it was seeing a particular jump in demand for its Funkin cocktail range after the reopening of hospitality.

But it was also seeing ongoing strong demand for Funkin cocktails to drink at home due to pandemic trends.

Liberum analyst Wayne Brown said AG Barr’s pre-tax profits are now expected to be at least 10% better than his previous forecast.

He added that the recent hot weather has “no doubt” also helped give a fillip to the firm’s trading.