Barr fizzes with success before merger

AG Barr has served up a refreshing set of figures ahead of its planned £1.5bn merger with Britvic.

The Irn-Bru maker said its revenues increased by 9 per cent during the 18 weeks up to December, with volumes rising 6.6 per cent. The company said it expected to hear whether the Office of Fair Trading will approve its tie-up with its rival next month. The deal will see AG Barr's brands, which also include Tizer and Rubicon, join forces with Robinsons, Fruit Shoot, R White's and Tango.

The merger will create one of Europe's leading soft drinks firms with annual sales of more than £1.5bn. AG Barr is the smaller of the two businesses with a market capitalisation of £500m. Britvic shareholders will own 63 per cent of the new company, Barr Britvic Soft Drinks.

AG Barr's update was welcomed by analysts, with Numis Securities' Charles Pick describing the figures as "excellent, especially as August saw a continuation of the poor summer".

Analysts at Panmure Gordon called it a "good performance", although they also warned that the "UK soft drinks market ... remains extremely competitive in the lead up to Christmas".

AG Barr's share price rose 2.1p to 480p.