C&C fails to enjoy a festive craic as fizz goes out of cider market

Joseph Millis
C&C has found that cider sales in the UK have gone flat
IRISH cider maker C&C yesterday issued a profit warning due to poor sales in Britain in the last four months of 2014 as it pursued a failed takeover bid for pub group Spirit.

The makers of ciders Magners and Bulmers, as well as Tennent’s lager, said it would advance plans to “significantly reduce costs” in England and Wales.

It did not specify what this would mean, but said it aimed to return its cider business to “acceptable levels of profitability”.

Sales volumes fell 9.8 per cent in the three months to November in the two reg­ions, which accounted for around a quarter of C&C’s revenues. C&C forecast operating profit of €115m (£89m) in its financial year, which ends in February, down from €127m in 2013.

Sales falls in the US eased to 16.2 per cent from an average of 21 per cent in the first half of the year as competitive threats receded, it said. “While the performance during the period is… disap­p­oint­ing, the improve­ment in the US provides some encouragement,” said Good­body analyst Liam Igoe.

C&C’s bid last year to buy the Spirit pub group failed after the chain was bought by Greene King for £774m.

It had hoped to use Spirit’s 1,200 pubs to increase its distribution in the UK, where it has faced a number of new rivals, such as Swedish brand Koppar­berg and AB InBev’s Stella Cidre.

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