May 23, 2018 / 7:29 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Higher demand for healthier drinks lifts Britvic's half-year revenue

(Adds details on beverage sales)

May 23 (Reuters) - British soft drink company Britvic Plc said its half-year revenue rose 4.5 percent to 733.2 million pounds, as it sold more no- or low-sugar drinks including Pepsi that helped offset the impact of poor weather.

Shares of the FTSE 250 listed company was up as much as 8 percent in early market trading on Wednesday.

Sales in the UK for its carbonated drinks rose to 294.9 million pounds from 270.3 million pounds, while volumes increased 5.1 percent to 677.3 million litres last year.

“Pepsi has continued to grow volume and value market share, with no-sugar MAX outgrowing all other cola variants. Revenues also increased for 7UP, Tango and our natural energy brand Purdey’s,” the company said.

The UK bottler said profit before tax for the 28 weeks ended April 15 fell to 41.8 million pounds from 50.1 million pounds, as it took a charge of 21.6 million pounds.

The results included only one week of trading following the introduction of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, the company said, adding it is too soon to judge the consumer response and give a guidance on its impact.

Britain’s sugar tax levy, which came into force in April, has two thresholds - one of 18 pence per litre on soft drinks with more than 5 grams of sugar per 100 ml and another of 24 pence per litre on those with more than 8 grams per 100 ml.

Ninety-four percent of Britvic’s owned brands and 72 percent of the company’s overall portfolio are either under or exempt from the sugar tax.

The company said it sold 1.2 billion litres of soft drinks this year, a 3.6 percent increase from last year. Average realised price for its beverages rose 0.5 percent to 57.4 pence.

Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair and Arun Koyyur

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