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Fever-Tree has continued to post “strong” off-trade sales in the early months of 2021 ahead of the re-opening of pubs, bars and restaurants and coronavirus restrictions eases around the world.

Ahead of its AGM this morning, FeverTree said its off-trade performance has remained strong in the first four months of the year and that “it is clear that at-home consumption of long mixed drinks is becoming increasingly established”.

In the UK its off-trade sales in the 13 weeks ending 18 April were up 10.1% year-on-year, despite lapping the effects of stockpiling seen at the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020.

It said this performance was ahead of the total mixer category “indicating the strength of the brand, the success of the new flavours and formats which we launched last year, and the marketing campaigns we have continued to invest in”.

It added that the phased reopening of the on-trade has given the hospitality industry renewed optimism for the second half of 2021.

“Whilst it remains too early to predict the pace of On-Trade recovery this year, Fever-Tree’s brand strength, distribution footprint and strong relationships with our customers means we are well positioned to take advantage of the return of this important channel, which represented about 50% of UK revenue pre-COVID,” it stated.

In the US the on-trade has been reopening on a State-by-State basis, with domestic tourism slowly returning but international tourism and larger events likely to take longer to return.

Fever-Tree’s US off-trade sales have continued to perform strongly at the start of 2021, increasing by 38.2% year-on-year in the 12 weeks to 27th March, which was ahead of the wider mixer category, and includes approximately 3-4 weeks where we started to lap the large stockpiling effect from last year.

This rise not only reflects increased at-home consumption, but also the uplift in trial and repeat purchase we have secured as a result of the pricing optimisation undertaken in 2020.

In Europe the on-trade remains materially impacted in many markets, but confidence is improving as it’s anticipated that restrictions will ease over the coming months. However, recovery in Europe is likely to lag the UK and US, albeit market trends towards premiumisation continue to support the brand long-term.

FeverTree said it continued its encouraging progress in the off-trade in Europe, while it has “continued to build on the strong progress” made in its Rest of the World locations, primarily Australia and Canada.

In particular, in Australia, where the on-trade has now been open for a few months, it has seen a good recovery in suburban areas, with city centre demand taking longer to return.

For the rest of the year FeverTree said it remains committed to investing in the opportunity for growth for the brand across all its regions.

“The continuation of restrictions relating to the pandemic, along with increasing logistics cost pressures have affected us, alongside the whole industry for the first four months of the year,” it said.

“Despite these sustained impacts, we have delivered a strong sales performance and are trading in line with the board’s expectations for the full year to 31 December 2021, assuming levels of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic continue to subside.”

Meanwhile FeverTree has announced the appointment of Laura Kate Hagan as a non-exec director of the company.

She is currently chief human resource officer at Tate & Lyle and has held senior positions at Dyson, including Group HR director, along with leading roles in global talent, resourcing and organisational development.

Bill Ronald, chairman of FeverTree, commented: “On behalf of the board, I am delighted to welcome Laura to Fever-Tree. Laura brings a wealth of relevant experience across both listed and founder led businesses that will undoubtedly further strengthen our board’s capabilities.”

FeverTree shares have edged down 0.1% to 2,564p so far this morning.

Morning update

Oat milk giant Oatly has announced the pricing of its US IPO, with it raising US$1.4bn from the sale of 84m shares at $17.00 per share.

The $1.4bn float, which is at the top of its previously announced $15.00-$17.00 range, implies a total valuation for the company of $10bn.

It expects to list on the Nasdaq Global Select Market later today under the ticker symbol OTLY.

Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse are acting as lead book-running managers for the offering.

Elsewhere, Young and Co’s Brewery fell to a £45.2m loss last year as a result of the widespread closure of pubs in the year to 29 March.

With only just under four months of trading possible, total group revenue was down by 70.9% to £90.6m.

This resulted in an operating loss of £35.1m compared to a profit of £37.9m in the same period in the previous year, while adjusting for non-underlying items the operating loss was £34m.

Total pre-tax loss was £45.2m, compared with a £29.1m profit last year.

Young’s said the timing of our financial year means that it has already absorbed most of the impact from Covid-19 in one year.

On 12 April, it reopened 144 of its pubs for phase two of the Government’s four step plan. It said the pent-up demand was evident weeks in advance as bookings for our gardens, huts and newly created external space “flooded in”.

Over the first five weeks, it saw very strong trading and achieved 85% of normal trade in those 144 pubs.

CEO Patrick Dardis commented: “We were able to navigate our way through the pandemic, despite the last financial year being one of the most challenging in our 189-year history.

“Despite the many lockdowns and disruption to our business, the financing decisions taken during the summer allowed us to continue to make significant investments in our pubs, with some truly transformational projects. We expect to see excellent growth from that investment this year and beyond.”

“We are confident with the steps we have taken to ensure continues to be in a position of strength and there is potential for a strong recovery this summer. April has started better than planned, with future bookings also looking strong. With this in mind, the board expects the business to get back to pre-covid-19 levels of trade and margins by the end of June, assuming the roadmap, and in particular the 21 June ‘freedom day’, is not compromised.”

Logistics firm Wincanton posted “robust” trading in the year to 31 March despite the impact of Covid-19.

The firm increased revenue to 1.7% in the period to £1.22bn, while excluding the Containers and Pullman Fleet Services businesses, underlying revenue growth was over 5%, driven by buoyant retail performance positively impacting three of its four sectors.

Several key new contract wins earlier in the year were implemented in time to deliver revenue in the second half.

In its grocery and consumer business, prior year new business wins with Morrisons and Co-op flowed through to further support volume growth in the sector, yielding full year revenue growth of 4.9%

Full year underlying profit before tax reduced by 10.6% to £47.2m, due to the impacts of Covid-19 in the first quarter.

However, second half profit performance was strong and the tight control of cash, coupled with the cash management actions taken in the first quarter, resulted in the company’s cash position remaining healthy throughout the year.

It was also able to repay all amounts deferred in the first quarter, including VAT and pension contributions, and all furlough money to the government.

CEO James Wroath commented: “Wincanton has made significant progress in a challenging year, showing flexibility, agility and resilience for our customers across our business. These results clearly show the benefits of the breadth of our offer and the commitment of our people who stepped up to meet the challenges we faced.

“We have grown revenues strongly since the early impact of the pandemic, fuelled by particularly good performance in Digital & eFulfilment and new wins in the public sector. We continue to invest to ensure we can deliver on the opportunities ahead in these markets.

“While profitability was impacted by the unprecedented disruption caused by Covid-19 in the first half it was significantly ahead of pre-pandemic levels in the second. We have taken this strong momentum into the new financial year and current trading is encouraging.”

“Looking ahead, we remain confident that we are well placed to make further progress, though we are mindful of the competitive environment and short term uncertainties as the country moves out of lockdown. We have in place the right strategy and the right people and believe our wide range of supply chain services and capabilities will continue to enable growth across a broad set of sectors.”

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is back up 0.3% to 6,971.1pts.

Risers include Total Produce, up 2.6% to 200p, Naked Wines, up 2.1% to 845p and Bakkavor, up 2% to 133.2p.

Fallers so far this morning include Morrisons, down 2.5% to 179p, Tesco, down 1.9% to 227.4p and Science in Sport, down 1.8% to 74.6p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 dipped back below 7,000pts yesterday, falling 1.2% to 6,950.2pts after the UK inflation rate rose to 1.5%.

Premier Foods ended the day flat at 102.4p after announcing revenues in the year ended the 3 April increased 10.3% to £934.2m, while trading profits rose 11.9% to £148.3m.

The day’s fallers largely included those with out of home exposure, with WH Smith, down 3.9% to 1,657p, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, down 3.1% to €48.85, Compass Group, down 2.7% to 1,488.5p, Domino’s Pizza Group, down 2.1% to 370.6p, Nichols down 2% to 1,480p and Britvic, down 1.9% to 933p.

Risers include Science in Sport, up 4.1% to 76p, AG Barr, up 3.6% to 542p, Pets at Home, up 1.7% to 449.8p, Wynnstay Group, up 1.6% to 477.5p and Imperial Brands, up 1.4% to 1,636p.