C&C revamping Bulmers livery amid tough competition in cider market
Bulmers owner C&C will launch a new livery for its pint bottles in Ireland next month as it steps up efforts to counter competition from global rivals such as Diageo and Heineken.
C&C CEO Stephen Glancey said that the cider brand has been losing market share in pubs but has remained steady in off-trade such as supermarkets. Its pint bottles, rather than draught, are the biggest seller in pubs.
"You've got fragmentation on the customer end - the pubs are fragmented, with lots of single units - and for the first time you're getting fragmentation in the branding," he told the Irish Independent.
"The millennium customer is promiscuous. They're anti-brand. They want to drink lots of craft product. It's changing the market."
Competition has come not only in the form of rival ciders, but also in craft beers and speciality spirits such as gins. C&C also has craft brands, including the Irish Five Lamps craft beer brand, which it has rolled out to more than 300 pubs in Ireland.
C&C said that growth in off-trade in Ireland for its products during the 12 months to the end of February was counteracted by a loss of draft distribution.
But Mr Glancey said that its Gleeson distribution business gives C&C an opportunity to exploit the growth in speciality and craft brands as suppliers look to get their product to market.
The drinks group said that on and off-trade volumes for Bulmers brands fell 6pc in Ireland during its last financial year, but insisted the decline needed to be measured against a strong brand performance during the previous financial year, when volumes rose 3pc, and an overall reduction in Ireland's on-trade cider category of 3pc.
Mr Glancey also pointed out that Heineken has been successful with its Strongbow Dark Fruit cider, and that Bulmers would also become available in that format. Reporting full-year results yesterday, C&C said revenue fell 4.9pc to €548.2m.
Operating profit was 7pc lower at €86.1m. The results were in line with expectations.