Soft drinks maker Britvic produced a 14 per cent rise in profits after its Robinsons squash, Pepsi and Fruit Shoot brands outperformed the market.

The Chelmsford and Solihull-based firm’s shares closed six per cent higher at 231.75p yesterday after it announced a strong performance despite a challenging year in which damp summer weather, mounting costs and economic gloom depressed the soft drinks market.

Chief executive Paul Moody said the company’s “strong brands” set it apart: “Once again we have outperformed the market across all key categories,” he said.

Smoothies and fruit juices were off the menu for consumers this year, Britvic said, as consumers were increasingly drawn to value products like squash.

Despite the downturn, the group reported a 14 per cent rise in pre tax profits for the full year to September 28, to £70?million from £61?million in 2007. Group sales were up 29 per cent, to £926?million, from £716?million.

The group, one of the largest UK drinks companies, expanded into Ireland and the results include the first full year figures for the Irish operation.

It said the sharp economic downturn in Ireland had had a negative effect on performance. But Britvic added the “business fundamentals remain strong”.In its international divisions, the company said it had moved into key tourist areas in Spain and the Mediterranean and had seen “early success” in the Middle East and India.