C&C profits slide but GB and craft brands provide some cheer

Magners producer C&C Group said the cider brand had put in a strong performance in the UK market in the year to February despite competitive pressure in its home Irish market putting a strain on profits.

Operating profit before exceptional items was down 7% for the year to €86.1 million on net revenue that fell 4.9% to €548.2 million.

Magners grew 9% in GB in the second half of the year, after a 6% drop in the first six months, helped by new listings in impulse and wholesale on the back of expanded distribution arrangements with AB-Inbev.

Chief executive officer Stephen Glancey said: “While the trading environment in our key markets of the UK and Ireland remained challenging our branded portfolio retuned to volume and revenue growth, outperforming the broader long alcoholic drinks market.

“The expansion of our distribution agreement with AB-Inbev for our cider portfolio in the UK gained momentum.”

Tennent’s Lager revenue rose 5% across the year on flat volumes.

C&C said it had seen the best growth in super-premium and craft brands with volume growth of 41% against a year earlier. The figure includes contributions from Menabrea beer from Italy, Five Lamps from Ireland, Heverlee from Belgium and the Drygate joint venture in Scotland.

The year also saw C&C add Orchard Pig cider to its craft long drinks portfolio.

The end-of-year figures do not include a contribution from Matthew Clark and Bibendum, bought by C&C from the administrators of the collapsed Conviviality group last month, but C&C said in its statement on the results that it had “made great strides” in getting the business back on track.

“There is still much work to do, but stock levels are now returning to normalised levels,” it said.

C&C announced the appointment of David Philips as managing director of Matthew Clark.

Philips was group finance director of Matthew Clark between 2007 and 2015 and has for the past two years been chief financial officer of the online gift retailer Not On The High Street.

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