C&C hurt as drinkers lose thirst for cider

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Sales of Magners have slumped by a fifth after drinkers lost their thirst for cider in the wettest April on record.

Dublin-based C&C, which also sells Gaymers and Tennent’s lager, said the amount of cider it sold in the UK fell 21.6 per cent in the three months to the end of May, while revenues were down 25 per cent after prices came under pressure as it tried to clear stock.

It pointed to industry figures that showed overall cider sales through shops fell 26 per cent in the wettest April on record and said Magners had put in a strong performance compared to the suffering market.

Magners sales were down 21.8 per cent but it is expected to recover as the year progresses, while there were “signs of encouragement” following Gaymers’ relaunch last month.

Overall volumes in its home market of Ireland, where it sells Bulmers, were down 1 per cent despite a near 50 per cent growth in sales of Tennent’s.

Tennent’s, which C&C bought from Anheuser-Busch in 2009, grew by 5.4 per cent in the UK thanks to an increase in price compensating for volume declines.

It enjoyed 63 per cent growth in volumes to export markets as it recently started sending Tennent’s to North America and Italy.

Chief executive Stephen Glancey said: “Despite a challenging quarter and tough consumer backdrop, we are confident that our resilient business model and strong brand market combinations will deliver continued earnings growth for the full year and maintain our business momentum.” He said in May that the European soccer championships and the Olympic Games in July and August would likely boost sales.

The company expects operating profits of between 112 million euros (£90m) and 118 million euros (£95m) in the year to the end of March, compared to 111.2 million euros (£89m) in the previous year.