The company, which manufactures brands such as Bulmers and Gaymers cider and Tennent’s lager, announced that its Magners cider brand in the UK had delivered positive volume and revenue growth. Export sales had also risen by 28%. Sales in Europe, North America and Australia had contributed most significantly to its performance.
In addition, the firm said that sales of Tennent’s were building momentum, with operating profits growing by 22.5% and Irish volumes up by 64%. It has invested in a new bottling line at its Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow, which makes Tennent's.
“We are pleased to report a strong financial and operating performance for the year, delivering operating profit in line with our stated guidance,” said C&C chief executive Stephen Glancey.
“This has been a robust year for the group. In our domestic markets our brands and businesses performed well against a tough economic backdrop. Maintaining and developing our core domestic businesses has been a key objective, alongside brand innovation and international development. We are also building momentum across several markets in our international business.”
Glancey said C&C’s business model of brand investment and focus on local markets had proved a successful strategy in the current climate of economic hardship.
“We invested in the global growth of cider with the acquisition of the Hornsby’s brand in the US [in November 2011] and with the contracting of new distribution agreements in key markets for our core brand, Magners.
“C&C is now a focused cider-led LAD (long alcoholic drink) business. While we remain cautious about the near term prospects of our core markets, the continuing global growth of the cider category, and C&C’s unique position within the sector, underscore our belief in the prospects of the business.”
Retail value growth
New entrants to the UK cider market and fruit variations had contributed to attractive retail value growth, although traditional ‘standard’ ciders had lost ground.
The firm expects current trends in the LAD market to persist. Strong cost focus, continued innovation and building out of the group’s beer portfolio would remain essential to maintaining operating profit, it added.
The company would be able to capitalise on growth through acquisition as well as the organic development of sales, said Glancey.
C&C had engaged in ongoing innovation across the financial year, with the launch of Magners Specials, Caledonia Best and Tennent’s Original Export.
C&C also announced that it had secured €250m in new loans in a deal with seven banks.
Net revenue for C&C declined 4.8% from €505m to €480.8m, however pre-tax profit rose by 6.7% from €123.2m to €131.5m in the year to February 29 2012.