Cider revival makes C&C sales fizz

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cider Britain

Making cider cool again in Britain has earned Irish drinks group,
C&C, a 25 per cent sales rise over the last year, the firm has

The firm, which launched its Magners cider brand in Britain last year and then struggled to supply the boom that followed, said sales in its cider division were up 80 per cent. The group's trading statement, for the full year up to 28 February, highlights just what smart marketing and branding can do to a product that appears to have fallen forever from grace. Things got so bad for cider at one point in recent years that the Strongbow brand, owned by Scottish & Newcastle, removed all references to apples or orchards in promotions. Cider also became too closely aligned with the murky world of underage drinking, which the UK government has sought to clamp down on. But Magners, with its notion of drinking cider openly in public and with ice, coupled with a record-breaking heatwave across Britain last summer, appears to have changed the face of the market. C&C said this week Magners' volumes had more than tripled in 2006. Premium ciders not owned by C&C have also done well, with Merrydown, Westons and Thatchers all reporting growth. New varieties may be on the cards too. Scottish & Newcastle recently brought over a fruit cider, called Jacques, from Belgium. It remains to be seen what kind of growth can be maintained in the sector this year. C&C said it would "significantly increase"​ marketing spend in Britain and also planned to have additional production capacity for Magners in place this spring. Duty tax threatens to spoil the party, however. Cider's relative unpopularity has kept it off the UK Chancellor's radar for some time, but it is widely thought across the industry that cider's explosion onto the scene will land the drink a duty tax rise this year.

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