Weather boosted Aston Manor in 2018

Cider producer Aston Manor has reported a sales increase of 5% in 2018 though profits failed to keep pace, increasing by just 1.4%.

The impact of last year’s hot summer and the World Cup contributed to a rise in turnover of 5% to £133 million.

The results cover the period in which Aston Manor was bought by Agrial, France’s largest cider producer, for a reported £100 million.

Chief executive Gordon Johncox said: “Both the sunshine and high-profile sporting events enabled cider – covering value, mainstream and premium – to flourish.

“Our performance outside of the UK has also been impressive.

“The rest of Europe is increasingly an important market for cider makers as drinkers’ taste for British cider continues to grow.

“The additional emphasis we put on this saw our turnover improve markedly from continental Europe in 2018.”

Aston Manor – whose brands include Frosty Jack’s and Kingstone Press – has spent £30 million on upgrading capacity at its four sites over the past five years.

“While we expect the future to offer up further challenges, continuing to invest in our capability, and being determined in our focus on what is important to us, should mean we are well-placed to build on the progress we are making," said Johncox.

He acknowledged some impact on the business from the introduction of minimum pricing in Scotland, but said Aston Manor was not alone.

“What struck us most was the steep decline in own-label drinks in several categories, not just cider but including lager, beer, ale and spirits,” Johncox said.

“These are the value products, often lower strength, enjoyed by low-income households, people that are typically lower per capita alcohol consumers.

“It appears that people on lower incomes are being priced out of enjoying a drink.”

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