C&C sales decline in 'challenging' Irish market but Bulmers stays ahead of pack
DRINKS company C&C reiterated yesterday that it was fundamentally happy with this year's trading, despite a fall in sales in Ireland.
Speaking at the company's annual general meeting (AGM) in Dublin, chief executive John Dunsmore said the rate of decline had slowed this year and that the firm's flagship brand, Bulmers cider, was now outperforming the Long Alcoholic Drinks (LAD) market.
"The key thing for us in the past year has been to go from underperforming the LAD market to where we are now," he said.
Chief operating officer Stephen Glancey added that the recession and excise duty rates had also had a clear effect on the company's bottom line.
"There's a long-term factor at work here in that, broadly speaking, people are drinking less alcohol and people are more likely to go to an off-licence to buy drinks now instead of going to a pub all the time.
"The Irish consumer is hugely challenged at the moment and will be for the foreseeable future -- so any consumer-driven business will be challenged for the next couple of years," he added.
Mr Dunsmore also confirmed that C&C remained set on expanding beyond the UK and Ireland but denied that the strategy would necessarily be acquisition-led.
"This year is about consolidation of the business we have taken on recently -- Gaymers and Tennent's -- but we will still look at opportunities as they arise," he said.
The company said it expected to deliver a full-year operating profit "in line with current market expectations" in October.
The AGM was marked by the formal retirement of Tony O'Brien as chairman, ending a 40-year association with the firm. His place has been taken by Brian Stewart, a former chairman of Standard Life and Scottish & Newcastle.