C&C pins hopes on new Magners ads

C&C Group hopes a series of new ad campaigns and acquisitions will help to arrest declining sales in its Magners brand.

The UK cider market has been growing around five per cent a year but Magners has seen a reversal in fortunes.

Chief executive John Dunsmore said: “Magners has lost substantial market share in the UK. With our ‘Method in the Magners’ campaign we hope to create a unique position for the brand in the UK.

“In the past, consumers in a pub would ask for a Magners and if it wasn’t in stock and they were offered an alternative they’d say ‘no’.”

Dunsmore said he was confident C&C could grow Magners’ volumes in line with the market to between five and 10 per cent in the coming year.

The update came as the beverage making company reported an 11 per cent fall in operating profits for the year to the end of March of €89.5m (£76.9m).

C&C however said it expects to return to earnings growth in the next two years after a series of acquisitions and disposals.

The chief executive said: “We’ve spent 12 to 15 months getting Magners’ brand proposition right and the challenge now is to re-create the gap between ourselves and other ciders in the customer’s mind. If we can do that we can win, and win dramatically.”

Among the deals planned is buying a beer brand from Anheuser-Busch InBev and selling its spirits and liqueurs unit.

Dunsmore said he hoped the coalition government would follow the last government and think again about any massive duty hike on cider. The Labour government and the opposition scrapped Budget plans to hit all cider brands.

C&C also owns Bulmers cider and Tennent’s beer, which is mainly available in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The group remains cautious on the macro economic outlook for both Ireland and the UK, it said.