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Nichols plc

12/23/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/23/2019 09:09

Trading update

Date:

Embargoed until 0700 Monday 23 December 2019

Contacts:

Marnie Millard, Group Chief Executive Officer

Tim Croston, Group Chief Financial Officer

Andrew Milne, Group Chief Operating Officer

Nichols plc

Telephone: 01925 222 222

Website: www.nicholsplc.co.uk

Alex Brennan/ Hattie Dreyfus

Richard Lindley/ Rachel Hayes

Hudson Sandler

N+1 Singer (Nominated Adviser and Broker)

Telephone: 020 7796 4133

Telephone: 0207 496 3000

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.n1singer.com

This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No 596/2014.

Nichols plc

(the 'company' or 'Group')

Trading update

Trading update for the year ending 31 December 2019

Group sales in 2019 are expected to be c.4.0% ahead of the prior year. We are pleased with this performance given the slowdown in the UK soft drinks market and the challenging broader consumer environment.

Across the Group, sales in both the UK and International businesses are ahead of 2018. In the UK, the Vimto brand continues to deliver growth against strong prior year comparatives and increase market share. Within our international markets, Ramadan 2019 has been one of the brand's most successful campaigns across the Middle East region.

We currently anticipate full year Profit Before Tax to be in line with market expectations.

Guidance for the year ending 31 December 2020

The Saudi Arabian and UAE tax authorities have recently implemented an excise tax of 50%, to be levied on the retail price of non-carbonated sweetened drinks.

This tax will be applied to all non-carbonated drinks containing either natural or artificial sweeteners, including sales of Vimto products. Therefore, unlike the UK soft drinks levy, product reformulation is not an option. Whilst it is difficult to estimate the future effect on sales volumes of the Vimto brand in these regions, at this point in time, we have to assume the increased retail price will have a negative impact from 2020. In order to mitigate the impact, we are currently developing plans in collaboration with our long term in-market partner which will require increased investment in the Vimto brand to maintain its strong market position.

The actual impact on sales in the Middle East will not be known until after the Ramadan trading period, which accounts for approximately 80% of annual in-country revenues, and we will update the market accordingly in our 2020 Interim Results Announcement in July. Whilst there is a broad range of possible outcomes, we believe the impact of the tax could be material to the Group and may result in Profit Before Tax for FY20 being materially below current expectations.

The company's annual sales of concentrate to the Saudi and UAE markets is c.£7.0m and the Middle East as a whole, remains a key strategic market for the Vimto brand. In addition, the Group remains highly profitable and cash generative, allowing continued investment in our future growth plans.

Nichols plc will issue a further trading update on Thursday 9 January 2020.

Notes to Editors:

Nichols plc is an international soft drinks business with sales in over 85 countries, selling products in both the Still and Carbonate categories. The Group is home to the iconic Vimto brand which is popular in the UK and around the world, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. Other brands in its portfolio include Feel Good, Starslush, ICEE, Levi Roots and Sunkist.