Nichols, the soft drinks company behind Vimto and Panda, has reported a 13.3% increase in full-year pre-tax profit to £9m on sales up 5.7% at £55.3m.

Revenue in its soft drinks division rose 4.5% to £41.7m in the year to 31 December and operating profit rose 7.1% to £8.3m.

However, most of this growth came from Middle East and African markets because of poor summer weather and deep promotional activity in the UK.

Panda continued to grow its share of the stills and water categories but carbonates suffered because of a general trend towards non-fizzy drinks, Nichols said.

Vimto out-performed the market and grew its overall market share, the company added.

“Despite the uncertainty around the economic and consumer environment for 2008, we will maintain our successful strategy of focusing on growing UK market share while continuing to develop our business overseas,” said non-executive chairman John Nichols.