Cott Corporation posts first losses in nine years

Cott Corporation, the beverage manufacturer whose ventures include Virgin Cola, has reported its first loss in nine years.

The Canadian firm blamed packaging cost increases and lower selling margins, reporting a C$670,000 (ú303,717) loss after tax for the fourth quarter of fiscal 1995. In the comparable period for 1994 it made a profit of C$9.1m (ú4.1m).

Although sales revenues in the fourth quarter grew by 65 per cent to C$277.5m (ú125.8m), gross margins fell from 17.7 per cent to 8.9 per cent. Net earnings for fiscal 1995 were C$34.8m (ú15.8m), compared to C$35.4m (ú16m) last year.

In the UK, where Cott products include Virgin Cola and Sainsbury’s Classic Cola, figures will not be filed until late summer.

However, Cott Europe finance director Brian Mackai says Cott has made a loss through the Ben Shaw canning operation in which it bought a 50 per cent stake last year. He adds that the operation was loss-making when Cott purchased its interest.

Although he will not give figures, Mackai says Cott Europe is in profit and that the Virgin Cola operation only showed a marginal profit between its set-up in November last year and Cott’s year-end results on January 28.

Cott chairman and chief executive officer Gerald Pencer says that, despite the losses shown by Cott Corporation as a whole, the company should return to profit over the next year.

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