Business Irish

Sunday 21 July 2019

Bulmers owner C&C eyes post-Brexit opportunities through 'meaningful' discussions with European manufacturers

Bulmers cider
Bulmers cider

Louise Kelly & Ellie Donnelly

The chief of Bulmers owner C&C has said that Brexit is presenting opportunities for the business as manufacturers are turning to them as part of contingency plans ahead of Britain leaving the European Union.

The Irish drinks company boss Stephen Glancey told Reuters that talks are ongoing at an advanced stage with operators in mainland Europe to manufacture their products at its British plant after next March.

C&C brands including Magners, Bulmers and Tennents, and has manufacturing operations in the EU and Britain through plants in Ireland and Scotland.

"You've got other manufacturers coming to us and saying 'can you manufacture for us in the UK'? ... The discussions are reasonably meaningful," Mr Glancey said.

"We would be reasonably confident that we'll pick up some volumes over the next two or three years at Wellpark (plant) in Glasgow, partly because of Brexit and partly because of the decline of sterling."

The good summer weather as well as the World Cup saw the group toast a 186pc increase in revenue to €838.7m in the six months to 31 August.

This includes the acquisition of Matthew Clark and Bibendum, the group said in a trading update. Total operating profit at the group increased by 4pc to €58.4m.

"Encouragingly, our key brands have all delivered market share in their key markets and year on year revenue growth," Mr Glancey said.

"In our core business, wholesale and wine also performed well with 11pc revenue growth, shipping 0.56 million cases of wine a 2pc increase from last year."

"We are reporting revenue growth of 186pc and earnings growth of 16pc. This includes the recently acquired Matthew Clark and Bibendum businesses. Core earnings (excluding these acquisitions) were up 4pc in the half."

C&C said that it had plans in place to manage the various scenarios that may emerge from Brexit and does not expect material customer or financial disruption.

"If there is a hard Brexit, we would pre-manufacture in the (Irish) Republic, so we've got liquid stock that would see us through two years," Glancey said.

"We'd package that and get it over to the UK so that we can keep Magners flowing through Cheltenham (horse racing festival) and right through the summer, so there is no immediate risk there."

In Ireland, the group's half year results showed net revenue increased 6.6pc to €125m, while the group’s operating profit in Ireland increased marginally to €26m.

C&C said that competition in Ireland remains intense, with significant new product launches by major international brewers across beer and cider, heightening competition for bar space and consumer attention.

However the group said that consumer spending in rural areas and Northern Ireland is more constrained than urban areas.

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