Bulmers Cider tops brand growth list

Bulmers Original cider is the fastest growing drinks brand in the UK off-trade, OLN can reveal in its new Growth Brands report.

Sales of the Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) cider have rocketed by 320 per cent in the past year, according to Nielsen data.

Bulmers stablemate, Strongbow, also grew sales by 22 per cent and sits 19th in the growth table. Rival brand Magners, produced by Ireland’s C&C Group, increased sales by 56 per cent.

Cider makers are hoping for a more lucrative year, after bad weather in 2007 saw them struggle to match breakthrough sales rises in summer 2006.

An S&N spokesperson said: “S&N UK will support the Bulmers cider portfolio with a £22m marketing investment programme that includes tv and radio advertising.”

The group has also earmarked £27m to promote Strongbow, which will include a major sampling campaign and “new pack formats to meet evolving consumer needs and market trends”.

S&N’s cider brands have outperformed arch-rival C&C in the off-trade this year, analyst firm Citigroup said in a note on Monday. It reported modest growth of 0.8 per cent volume and 3.7 per cent value for the cider category in the four weeks to June 14th, compared to the same time last year.

C&C’s Magners brand, which led cider’s rehabilitation on the UK drinks market, was stung badly by last year’s disappointing summer. It is believed the firm is keen to reduce Magners’ reliance on sunny weather by promoting it more as a drink for all seasons.

S&N UK brands are set to be controlled by Heineken, which teamed up with Carlsberg to buy the UK brewer for nearly £8bn earlier this year.

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