March 7, 2013 / 8:03 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Nichols' Vimto drinks head to replace Hynes as CEO

* CEO Brendan Hynes to step down

* Vimto MD Marnie Millard to take on CEO role from May. 1

* FY 2012 pretax profit up 13 pct to 20.5 mln stg

* Confident outlook for 2013

LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) - British soft drinks maker Nichols said its chief executive Brendan Hynes is to step down after a decade with the firm and would be replaced by the head of its core Vimto brand, Marnie Millard.

Nichols, whose brands also include Sunkist and Panda, said Hynes intended to pursue a non-executive portfolio career. He will be replaced on May. 1 by Millard, who has over 17 years experience in the soft drinks industry.

The news came on Thursday as Nichols posted an expected 13 percent rise in pretax profit for 2012 to 20.5 million pounds ($31 million) on revenue up 9 percent to 107.8 million pounds.

Strong sales of Vimto and new products such as Levi Roots and Weight Watchers drinks helped push annual UK revenues up 9 percent, outperforming soft drinks market growth of 3 percent.

Export sales rose 8 percent to 22.7 million pounds with strong growth in Africa and mainland Europe helping offset a flatter performance in the Middle East.

Nichols, which proposed a total dividend of 17.32 pence, up 13 percent, said it was confident of outperforming the market again in 2013.

Shares in the firm closed at 887.75 pence on Wednesday, up 44 percent on a year ago, valuing the business at around 338 million pounds.

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