Nichols plc (‘Nichols’ or the ‘Group’), the soft drinks Group, announces its Preliminary results for the year ended 31 December 2018 (the ‘period’).
John Nichols, Non-Executive Chairman, said:
“Nichols plc delivered a strong performance in 2018, achieving growth in revenue, profit and earnings per share, resulting in a 14.5% increase in the final dividend.
The UK sales performance was driven by the strength of the Vimto brand, now in its 110th year and continuing to outperform the wider soft drinks market, in addition to the increasing growth opportunities in the Out of Home sector following successful investment in this area.
As a result of the Group’s diversified business model, strong portfolio of brands and successful track record, the Board remains confident of delivering continued profitable growth.”
2018 was a significant year for the Vimto brand, marking 110 years since my grandfather invented the drink that today is still enjoyed in the UK and around the world.
I am pleased therefore, to announce another strong performance from Nichols plc during this special year. In 2018, Group revenue grew by 7.0%, Profit Before Tax was up 4.0% and we are proposing a 14.5% increase in the final dividend.
Group revenue in the year was £142.0m, £9.2m ahead of 2017.
Total sales in the UK business increased by 12.7% to £114.6m (2017: £101.7m).
In its 110th year, sales of the Vimto brand grew by 12.9%, gaining market share and significantly outperforming the UK soft drinks category which grew at +7.8% (Nielsen MAT 29 December 2018).
Elsewhere in the UK, sales in the Out of Home channel increased by 15.2% compared to the prior year. This strong performance was driven by sales of both our dispensed soft drinks and frozen beverage products which reflects the significant investment in this part of our business over recent years.
In the international business, a strong sales performance in Africa during the second half of the year delivered full year growth of 6.5% in this region.
As anticipated in our 2017 Preliminary Results Statement (1 March 2018), sales to the Middle East were down on the prior year due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen and the timing of shipments to Saudi Arabia. As a result, sales to the Middle East region totalled £9.6m (2017: £13.0m). The Group’s total international sales were £27.4m (2017: £31.0m).
Reflecting the Board’s ongoing confidence in the Group’s financial position, we are pleased to recommend a final dividend of 26.8 pence per share (2017: 23.4 pence).
If accepted by our shareholders, the total dividend for 2018 will be 38.1 pence (2017: 33.5 pence), an increase of 13.7% on the prior year. Subject to shareholder approval, the final dividend will be paid on 3 May 2019 to shareholders registered on 22 March 2019; the ex-dividend date is 21 March 2019.
Post Balance Sheet Acquisition
Alongside the continued investment in the Vimto brand, our strategy identifies acquisition as a key driver of the Group’s future growth plans. Therefore, we are delighted to announce the acquisition of 100% of the shares in Adrian Mecklenburgh Limited (AML) on 1 February 2019. AML is currently one of our Out of Home soft drinks dispense distributors covering the Kent region. This acquisition is consistent with a number of recent successful investments in our Out of Home business and consolidates the route to market in the region.
We are well positioned with a diversified business model, a strong balance sheet and remain highly profitable. We continue to monitor the ongoing Brexit process, taking all possible actions to reduce the risk and we are confident that the Group can maintain its forward momentum in 2019 and beyond. In 2019, we expect our UK business to maintain its positive performance driven by the strength of the Vimto brand and the increasing opportunities in the Out of Home sector.
In our international business, we are confident that the long term prospects in the Middle East and Africa remain strong, although the ongoing conflict in Yemen continues to create uncertainty for 2019.
In Summary, the Board is pleased with Nichols plc’s performance during 2018. The Vimto brand marked its 110th year with a 12.9% increase in sales, the Group has delivered further profit growth and the Board is proposing a 14.5% uplift in the final dividend.
26 February 2019
This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of EU Regulation 596/2014.