Profits at Vimto producer Nichols have risen 20% year-on-year, on UK sales growth twice the rate of the market.

The company, which reported an 18% hike in group sales to £98.9m in its full-year results today, said its UK sales had grown 15% in the year to 31 December, compared with a 7% increase in the overall soft drinks market [Nielsen 52w/e 24 December 2011].

Its profits before tax were £18.1m against £15.1m last year.

A range of Levi Roots drinks launched by the company in April had brought £2.5m in incremental sales, said non-executive chairman John Nichols.

He added that he expected recent additions to its portfolio, such as a nine-strong WeightWatchers range, to deliver growth in the UK and overseas – where sales had risen 31% year-on-year.

Nichols said he believed 2012 would be challenging for the soft drinks market - with promotions continuing at a high level, further cost inflation and relatively low volume growth.

“Despite this backdrop, we again expect to outperform the market by continuing to invest in our brands and launching new products,” he added.