Soft drinks maker and distributor Britvic reported a rise in revenues as big market share gains for Pepsi, which it makes and distributes under license in the UK, helped offset a tough Irish market.

The Chelmsford-based company, whose own brands include Robinsons, Tango, and J2O, said on Wednesday that first quarter revenue rose 2.5 percent at constant exchange rates to 295.2 million pounds.

Its carbonates business performed particularly strongly with a 5.8 percent revenue rise driven by Pepsi which Britvic said had substantially grown its share of the take-home cola market.

Britvic produces and sells PepsiCo
brands such as Pepsi and 7UP in Britain and Ireland.

We expect the general economic and trading environments to remain challenging but, despite this caution, we are confident in our ability to deliver another solid set of results for the year ahead, in line with our expectations, Britvic Chief Executive Paul Moody said in a statement.

Elsewhere French revenues grew by 12.6 percent as the company said it managed to push through big price rises in response to higher raw materials costs and that its share of the syrups market, where it owns the Teisseire brand, had increased.

Revenue from Ireland slumped 10 percent due to price cuts and a 0.2 percent dip in sales volumes.

Britvic said half of the sales decline in Ireland stemmed from weakness at its wholesale business distributing third-party brands to pubs and bars. It said the trend of people buying drinks to take home rather than going out had been particularly marked in a country where the economy is reeling from a burst property bubble and unemployment is close to a 20-year high.

Britvic's shares, which have lost about a quarter of their value over the last 12 months, were up 0.9 percent at 338.9 pence by 8:44 a.m., performing broadly in line with a 0.8 percent higher FTSE 250 midcap index <.FTMC>.

(Reporting by Philip Baillie; Editing by Paul Hoskins)