Bulmers maker C&C reports 75pc jump in annual profit

Caoimhe Gordon

Drinks group C&C said it delivered an “improved performance” in its latest financial year as profits at the Bulmers maker soared during the peak of inflation.

Operating profit rose to €84.1m in the 12 months ended February 28. This reflected a rise of 75.6pc compared to the previous financial year.

Net revenue increased by 18.4pc across the year to €1.69bn. C&C attributed this growth to a 4.2pc boost in volumes, as well as price hikes of 14.2pc.

However, the drinks group noted that margins in the second half of its financial year were challenged by a slowdown in consumer demand as a result of cost of living pressures, as well as strikes in the UK.

The board is now planning to reinstate dividends, with a proposed dividend of 3.79c per share.

In Ireland, sales rose by 24.4pc to €278.5m driven by the re-opening of the on-trade.

Profits rose by 48.7pc to €28.1m in the Irish market. The group said margins here improved as a result of the introduction of minimum unit pricing in Ireland last year, the lifting of Covid restrictions and price increases for consumers.

The group said in a trading update today that net debt tis approximately €152.7m, down significantly on the €271.3m net debt in its previous financial year.

C&C Group produces a range of drinks across the UK and Ireland, including Bulmers and Tennents.

Market share for these brands improved, while premium beer sales volumes jumped by 44.1pc across the year.

The group warned that macroeconomic conditions continue to impact trade, with the UK market particularly impacted.

The company also highlighted ongoing challenges related to the implementation of a new enterprise resource planning system update in its Matthew Clark and Bibendum wholesale businesses in the UK .

The implementation has taken longer than anticipated, creating a “consequent material impact” on both service and profitability.

C&C now expects a one-off impact of around €25m as a result of this disruption in its current financial year due to costs associated with restoring service levels, as well as lost revenue related to disruption.

Last week, the drinks group also revealed that its chief executive David Forde would step down from the role, with chief financial officer Patrick McMahon moving into the top job.

"Set against a challenging backdrop in FY2023, C&C delivered an improved performance against all financial measures,” Mr McMahon said.

"Increased balance sheet strength and inherently strong free cash flow characteristics have enabled C&C to return capital to shareholders through the re-instatement of dividends.”