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Tonic maker Fevertree upbeat on 2018 results on UK gin craze

[LONDON] Tonic water maker Fevertree Drinks Plc said on Tuesday it expects full-year results to be "comfortably ahead" of its expectations, on the back of strong gin sales as Britons turn to high-end booze.

Fevertree, which sells flavoured tonic water and other carbonated mixers, has rapidly grown over the last few years as sales of premium gin have surged in Britain.

The company said its performance in the UK over the Christmas period was particularly notable with an "impressive rate of sales growth" for its drinks.

Britons spent 461 million pounds (S$823 million) on gin in 2017, a 32.5 per cent increase from a year earlier and three times the sales seen in 2009, the Office for National Statistics said earlier this month.

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"Whilst this is a notable achievement, there remains a significant opportunity in front of us across all our regions as Fever-Tree continues to drive the evolution of the mixer category," said co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Tim Warrillow.

Fevertree, named after the colloquial term for the cinchona tree, the bark of which produces quinine - a key ingredient in tonic water - is now one of the largest companies on London's junior AIM market, with a market value of around 4.06 billion pounds.

Fevertree also said it signed two new distributor arrangements - one in the United States with wine and spirits distributor Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits, and the other with Spain's Grupo Damm, the maker of the Barcelona's popular beer Estrella Damm.

Fevertree said adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose to 34 million pounds in the six months ended June 30, from 25.2 million pounds, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 45 per cent to 104.2 million pounds.

The company will pay an interim dividend of 4.22 pence per share, a 40 per cent rise, it said.

REUTERS