Barr says CEO White to retire as revenue rises 33%

A.G. Barr, the Cumbernauld-based maker of Irn-Bru, Rubicon energy drinks and Funkin cocktail mixers, announced that long-serving chief executive Roger White will, at a mutually agreed date in the next 12 months, step down from his role as CEO, resign as a director and retire from the firm.

Barr also announced a trading update for the 26 weeks ended July 30, 2023, showing revenue is expected to rise 33% to £210 million — which would be a 10% rise on a like-for-like basis excluding the contribution from the Boost Drinks business acquired in December 2022.

The firm said it currently expects its full year profit performance to be marginally above the top end of analyst expectations.

The board will immediately commence a formal succession process including an external search to ensure a smooth leadership transition,” said Barr.

A.G. Barr chairman Mark Allen said: “Roger has served the shareholders, board, wider business and industry for over 21 years – this makes him one of the longest serving CEO’s in the UK public market. 

“He has supported the transformation of the business from a regional soft drinks business into a highly successful multi beverage, branded company that has delivered significant value to shareholders, stakeholders and employees.

“A.G. Barr has a strong culture and momentum and is strategically well placed to continue to deliver for the long term”.

White said: “It has been a privilege and pleasure to lead the business for over two decades and now the time is right to plan for my succession and to ensure the continued success of the business.”

In its H2 outlook, Barr said: “We exit the first half with strong brand momentum. The Scottish deposit return scheme delay provides us with a more stable and certain consumer environment and enables the accelerated execution of our innovation plans. 

“We now have a number of exciting brand launches planned for the second half of the year.

“We continue to progress our strategic brand investment programme at pace across the group. As previously stated, the current full year group operating margin will be impacted by persistent cost inflation alongside the known near-term impact of the lower margin Boost division.

“We currently expect our full year profit performance to be marginally above the top end of analyst expectations.”

White said: “In March we communicated that 2023/24 would be a year of investment across the business, supporting the group’s long-term revenue and profit growth ambitions. 

“I am pleased to report we have had a strong first half, despite ongoing macro cost challenges. Our focus remains on offering consumers great value, affordable brands. 

“Our medium-term plan to rebuild the group’s operating profit margin is progressing well across a range of activities, including supply chain optimisation, cost management and portfolio development. 

“We have strong brand plans in place across the business for the balance of the year to sustain our growth momentum and we remain confident in the group’s long-term growth strategy.”