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UPDATE 1-'Drink now' sales boost puts Irn-Bru owner on track for annual targets

(Adds details from statement, background)

May 28 (Reuters) - A.G. Barr said on Friday sales of its soft drinks and cocktail mixes have been strong since the start of the year as people went back to leisure drinking after months of lockdowns, putting the company on track to meet its annual targets.

The company, best known for Scottish fizzy drink Irn-Bru, said it was also planning to invest more in products and marketing after “encouraging” trading in recent months as pubs, restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen.

“As lockdown restrictions have eased, we have seen a positive impact on both our sales volume and mix, with a shift back towards ‘drink now’, hospitality and leisure,” the company said in a statement ahead of its general meeting.

A.G. Barr said its new launches, particularly Rubicon RAW Energy, had been performing well, and demand for its cocktail brand Funkin remained firm after a solid 2020, when people were drinking more at home.

The company also reiterated that it plans to recommence dividend payments this year.

While A.G. Barr warned of some lingering uncertainty in the short term, it was confident of the current year after profits slumped in 2020. It had said 2021 would “not be an entirely normal year.” (Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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