Magners maker goes stateside as rain waters down UK sales

City A.M. Reporter
IRISH cider maker C&C said yesterday it would buy US firm Vermont Hard Cider for $305m (£191m) as part of a bid to tap into a fast-growing market and offset weakness in its core UK business, where sales of its flagship Magners brand slumped during a wet summer.

Sales of Magners in the US leapt 16 per cent in the six months to August, compared with a 17 per cent fall in the UK, where the brand faces growing competition.

The acquisition of Vermont, which produces Woodchuck, the largest domestic cider brand in the US, is due to be completed by February, subject to regulatory approval.

“This transaction transforms our international cider business and accelerates our growth prospects,” C&C’s chief executive Stephen Glancey said yesterday.

The US cider market has been growing at close to 60 per cent per year, with much of the growth coming from domestic brands rather than imported brands like Magners.

C&C, which also sells Tennants lager and cider under the Bulmers and Gaymers brands, posted a two per cent fall in sales for the first half of the financial year to €263.4m (£214.4m).

The business was dragged down by poor summer sales in Ireland and the UK.

“The summer just hasn’t happened in terms of barbecues, parties, etc,” said chief financial officer Kenny Neison, blaming the poor weather over the period.