The great-grandson of Vimto’s founder has joined the board of the company that still makes the iconic drink.

Matthew Nichols, currently Commercial Director – International in the group’s packaged drinks business, is now a non-executive director at Nichols plc in Newton-le-Willows.

He joins the board under the terms of the relationship agreement between Nichols plc and the Nichols family that entitles the family to two non-executive board positions.

His father John Nichols, the grandson of Vimto’s inventor John Noel Nichols and a former group managing director and executive chairman, is already on the plc board.

The latest appointment came as Nichols announced a strong trading update for 2023

Matthew Nichols joined the group in September 2006 and has held several senior roles, becoming a member of the company’s Senior Leadership Team.

Liz McMeikan, non-executive chair of Nichols, said: “The board is delighted to announce the appointment of Matt Nichols as a non-executive director. Matt is a highly valued member of the company’s senior leadership team, responsible for the leading the company’s successful International business. He will bring a welcome diversity of perspective and I look forward to the value his contribution will bring to the work of the board.”

Nichols also reported today that it has enjoyed a “strong” 2023 and that its adjusted profit before tax would be slightly above market expectations.

Total group revenue rose by 3.5% to £170.7m, up from £164.9m in 2023. Sales in its Packaged business were up 6.1%, and international sales in that business rose 16.8%.

It said gross margins had been largely maintained despite “considerable inflationary pressures” earlier in the year.

Nichols CEO Andrew Milne said: “Nichols has delivered a strong performance in FY23 making good progress against our strategic plans and achieving a PBT outcome ahead of market expectations. This is a great testament to the strength of the group’s business model and brands, with our established UK position complemented by strong momentum internationally. Looking ahead into 2024 we remain focused on continuing to implement our strategic plans and delivering further progress against our long term ambitions.”

Sahill Shan, contributing analyst from Singer Capital Markets, said today’s update was “a highly pleasing outcome given various headwinds over 2023.”

In a market note this morning, he said: “With the soft drinks sector continuing to show resilience, inflationary pressures easing and with a more dynamic strategy post restructuring of OoH (the Out of Home business) , we are confident of Nichols returning to growth.”

He added: “The packaged business provides a significant opportunity, led by the higher growth international territories.”