Putting a bit of spark back into results

Newton-based Vimto have posted healthly profits
Newton-based Vimto have posted healthly profits

THE St Helens-based soft drinks firm behind Vimto and Sunkist has put some fizz into its shares by revealing a bigger-than-expected jump in sales and profits.

Newton-based Nichols, which also makes Panda and Cabana, said its brands bucked the economic trend in 2011 - posting sales growth of 18 per cent.

With the group also maintaining margins despite raw material cost rises and an “exceptionally high” level of promotions, Nichols said profits will be significantly ahead of last year and current market expectations.

Shares jumped more than 6 per cent following the update.

Referring to the company as one of its top stock picks for 2012, stockbrokers Panmure Gordon increased its target for profits this year by 6 per cent to £19.2m. It expects a haul of £17.4 million in forthcoming 2011 results.

The Vimto brand, which is sold in 65 countries, has also been a success overseas after Nichols reported significant year on year growth for its international business.

Nichols traces its history back more than a century. The current chairman is the grandson of Vimto founder John Noel Nichols, who created the recipe in Manchester in 1908.

It will expand its offer this month with the launch of a range of WeightWatchers low calorie soft drinks.