AG Barr has reported a 2.4% increase in first quarter sales – which it said was ahead of the soft drinks market.

The maker of Irn-Bru said the sales increase for the 15 weeks to 12 May was achieved despite the weather, economic challenges and “significant increases” in promotional activity from rivals. It said margins were in line with expectations.

AG Barr is currently installing machinery in its new site in Milton Keynes and expects the factory to be up and running in the next eight weeks.

Regarding the potential merger with Britvic, AG Barr said the strategic attraction of a tie-up had not changed and the board will reconsider a deal once the Competition Commission publishes its findings. 

“AG Barr will no doubt be pleased to have seen such strong top-line growth (relative to the market and, we believe, Britvic) in the latest period,” said Panmure analyst Graham Jones.

Last week, Britvic reported a 51% rise in half-year profit and announced plans to make annual cost savings of £30m by 2016. Analysts said the cost saving plans reduced the likelihood of a deal and meant Britvic was likely to push for better terms if the two companies return to the negotiating table.