Nichols keeps its fizz after defying drag from the weather

The Vimto and Sunkist soft drinks maker Nichols saw its shares fizz up yesterday after it said it would beat City forecasts despite last year's dire weather.

Sales increased by 9 per cent to £108m in 2012, well ahead of the overall growth in the UK soft drinks market of just 3.6 per cent.

Sales were driven by its two largest brands, Vimto and Sunkist, but the company's recent licensing deals with Levi Roots and Weight Watchers kicked in towards the end of the year, and are expected to push growth in 2013.

UK sales were up by 10 per cent while exports increased by 8 per cent. Nichols said that despite the challenging UK economy and the second-wettest year on record: "We expect group profit and earnings per share to be significantly ahead of last year and ahead of market expectations."

Analysts said they expected pre-tax profits of £20m.

The shares gained 33p, or 4 per cent, to close at 858p.