Lucozade Ribena Suntory saw a sharp rebound in sales last year as on-the-go consumption returned in the wake of Covid restrictions.

The soft drink group’s revenues jumped 15.5% to £445m in 2021 – up from £385.2m in 2020, and above pre-pandemic 2019 levels of £425.6m.

Covid restrictions continued in the first quarter of the year, but sales were boosted by the reopening of high streets and the shift back towards out-of-home consumption.

Daniel Lander, FD of Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I, said the top-line growth was achieved “despite a backdrop of external pressures the entire industry experienced, including delivery challenges and access to ingredients like CO2”.

The accounts also state the company benefited from a focus on operational efficiencies at its Coleford factory and the strengthening of key customer and supplier relationships.

Gross profit margins edged up to 54% from 52%, resulting in operating profit growth of 15.3% to £89m. However, a doubling of tax to £42m saw statutory profits decline from £55.6m to £48.6m.

Lander said the group had benefited from “consumers’ confidence returning, supported in particular by our on the-go range products like Lucozade Sport”.

“Additionally, our company’s positive One Suntory philosophy galvanised our people to collaborate with customers and suppliers to find the right solutions all aligned with our wider Growing for Good vision,” he added.

The accounts note the soft drinks sector is likely to “remain challenging” amid “intense competition amongst the major retailers and the continued pressure on household budgets”.

However, it states that the “foundation the company has built, coupled with significant planned investment and commitment to its brands, products, customer, supplier relationships and its employees will put the company in a good position for future growth.”