(Britvic initially reported group revenue in December rose 18% from a year earlier - it has since confirmed this rose by 12%)

(Alliance News) - Britvic PLC on Thursday said it recorded a positive start to its financial year, with strong Christmas trading and rising first-quarter revenue, while expecting annual growth.

The Hemel Hempstead, England-based drinks company, behind brands such as Robinsons squash and R White's lemonade, said revenue in the first quarter that ended December 31 was GBP443.5 million, up 8.1% from a year earlier.

By division, Great Britain revenue was up 6.9%, citing both retail and hospitality channels recording growth; Brazil revenue surged 21%, including the benefit of a recent acquisition; while Other International revenue rose 6.0%, led by Ireland revenue rising 13%, while France revenue rose 1.1% with a strong price/mix offsetting a volume decline.

In December, Britvic saw group revenue rise 12% and volume up 6.4% from a year earlier, benefiting from like-for-like growth and recent acquisitions.

"Our performance in the first quarter was strong and in-line with our expectations, as we continue to offer consumers value as well as great taste, with our portfolio of family favourite soft drinks brands. We have exciting plans for the year ahead across our markets, with new innovations and engaging marketing activations, including Pepsi's first brand refresh in 14 years," said Chief Executive Officer Simon Litherland.

"We remain confident of achieving growth this year within the range of market expectations, as well as continuing our track record of delivering superior returns longer term."

Britvic will announce its interim results on May 15.

Shares in Britvic were up 1.4% to 866.50 pence each in London on Thursday morning.

By Greg Rosenvinge, Alliance News senior reporter

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