x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Early Vimto supplies boost sales

The early start to Ramadan has provided bumper first-half sales figures for the soft drink's UK maker Nichols.

Many in the UAE choose the purple beverage to break the daily fast during the holy month.
Many in the UAE choose the purple beverage to break the daily fast during the holy month.

Sales of Vimto cordial have hit their purple patch a little earlier this year. The early start to Ramadan has provided bumper first-half sales figures for the soft drink's UK maker Nichols, with some advance orders that would normally be included in the latter half of the business calendar.

And those orders had better be in place. For many of the UAE's residents, Vimto is the drink of choice to break the daily fast during the holy month. "Vimto is Ramadan, Ramadan is Vimto - that is how we see it," said Abdulla Aujan, the vice president of supply chain for the drink's regional distributor Aujan. "It's our season. It's our time to shine as usual." Mr Aujan said his company had boosted its orders for Vimto concentrate this year, with Ramadan starting 10 days earlier and closer to the heart of summer.

The concentrate is sent to a Saudi Arabian plant where it is turned into the drink that last year sold more than 413 million litres, most of it in the Middle East. It is estimated that more than 20 million bottles of Vimto are sold across the GCC during Ramadan. Nichols posted first-half pre-tax profits that were up by 39 per cent on the same period last year. The soft drinks company's global sales for the first six months rose 17.6 per cent to £44.2 million (Dh257.1m) from £37.5m the year earlier.

Its international sales rose by more than double that, at 38.6 per cent, driven by sales in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The early sales pushed the pre-tax profits of Nichols to £6m, a 39 per cent rise over the same period last year. But as a result of the earlier shipments this year, Nichols said it did not anticipate the level of overseas growth would be sustained for the full year. "Stronger comparatives will mean that our rate of sales growth will inevitably slow down during the second half of the year," said John Nichols, the non-executive chairman of Nichols.

"Nevertheless, for the full year we anticipate profits will be significantly ahead of last year." Mr Aujan said his company was looking to increase its distribution network through the MENA region. "We are expanding our sales and our growth in Iraq, Iran and North Africa," he said. aligaya@thenational.ae