By Sinchita Mitra
(Reuters) – The maker of Scottish soft drink Irn-Bru will keep prices unchanged for the next six months but won’t rule out future price hikes given Britain’s high inflation, the company’s chief executive said on Tuesday.
A.G. Barr, the group behind the bright orange drink Irn-Bru, raised prices last month when inflation reached a 30-year high due to global supply chain problems and higher raw material costs. Many firms have passed the costs on to customers.
“We might have to increase further, but the current price levels should suffice for the next six months,” A.G. Barr Chief Executive Roger White said in an interview.
“Price does have a role to play. I wouldn’t discount the possibility, as we are seeing higher levels of inflation,” White said about future increases.
The group has been implementing cost-cutting measures including using cheaper packaging and moving production closer to retail shops, he said.
His remarks came after A.G. Barr, which also sells pre-mixed cocktails under its Funkin brand, reported an 18% jump in annual profit and said it would now resume paying dividends to shareholders, having paused them during the pandemic.
The company has benefited from greater at-home consumption of food and drink during the pandemic, but there has been a “slight reversal” in that trend as pubs and restaurants re-opened, White said.
In light of the crisis in Ukraine, A.G. Barr won’t fulfil any orders by Moscow Brewing Company, its Russian franchisee, White said, although he added that it hasn’t ended the contract.
Shares in A.G. Barr were up 2.4% as of 1056 GMT on the London Stock Exchange.
A.G. Barr also said sales in the early weeks of the new financial year were well ahead of the prior year and in line with expectations.
($1 = 0.7639 pounds)
(Reporting by Sinchita Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Frank Jack Daniel)