Growth in the number of top-up shoppers helped the convenience sector grow soft drink sales by 2.2% to £3.1bn last year, according to Britvic’s latest Soft Drinks Report.

The manufacturer said figures recorded for the total convenience sector, which included multiple convenience stores, showed it outperformed the total soft drinks market, which recorded a 0.6% drop in sales in 2015.

However, Britvic claimed soft drink sales in independent stores had declined as a result of growth in the number of multiple stores and more shoppers seeking out value-for-money lines in larger shops.

Colin Falconer, commercial director – convenience at Britvic, said: “The grocers have laid down around 400 new stores, and independents have been losing out as a result.

“In addition, the gap between what shoppers are prepared to pay for in a grocer and what they’re prepared to pay for in an independent store is also narrowing.

“We’ll be doing a lot of work on pricemarking in the future to help independents offer greater value.”

Britvic said convenience stores had benefited from a rise in the number of ‘generation C’ shoppers, who are working longer hours and were making more unplanned purchases. It added that 40% of shoppers were now visiting convenience stores to buy drinks as part of a top-up shop, a rise of 8% from 2014.

In addition, the firm claimed sales of low calorie soft drinks grew 4.1% in convenience, with water the fastest growing category, up 10%.

Meanwhile, Britvic revealed it will relaunch its Drench drinks range with a new recipe containing stevia, bringing sugar levels to under 5g per 100ml.

It is also relaunching its Purdey’s range with updated packaging and adding a new product, Purdey’s Edge.