A THIRST for Tennent’s lager in pubs in the run up to Christmas helped owner C&C Group to weather the “more competitive” cider market, allowing the Dublin-based brewer to stick by its full-year profit forecasts.
C&C, which bought Glasgow-based Tennent’s from Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2009 for £180 million, said that sales of the lager rose by 8 per cent by volume in the key Scottish independent free trade between 1 September and St Andrew’s Day.
Caledonia Best, the ale that Tennent’s launched in 2011, and Belgian beer Heverlee, which was introduced to Scotland in October ahead of its global unveiling, both “continue to grow”, the company said.
The Irish group stuck with its full-year operating profit forecast of €125-132 million (£104-110m) despite revenues from its UK cider business dropping by 17.5 per cent during the opening nine months of its financial year.
C&C – which makes ciders including Blackthorn, Magners and American label Woodchuck – is facing stiff competition, with brands including Carling and Stella Artois launching their own ranges.
Shore Capital analyst Phil Carroll said: “We are hopeful that – with every major brewer now having launched a cider offering in the UK – the focus will change in the sector away from high levels of promotion.”
Mike Gibbs, an analyst at JO Morgan, added: “Tennent’s performed well in the Scottish independent free trade channel, likely contributing to a positive price-mix effect of circa 1.8 per cent seen during the nine-month period, given the higher margin in this channel.
“We estimate volumes to have declined by circa 3.6 per cent in the third quarter, representing an improvement on a headline basis versus the first half’s 5.8 per cent decline.”