Releasing a trading update to coincide with its annual shareholder meeting, the Irish drinks firm said that following the progressive easing of restrictions since April and the partial recovery in the on-trade sector, the group banked a “modest” trading profit in May, with this improving further in June.
However, the firm, whose other brands include Magners cider and Heverlee lager, cautioned over government delays to the full reopening of hospitality.
It told investors: “While still in the early stage of reopening in our core markets, we have been encouraged by the way in which trade has recovered in the UK since the gradual reopening from April and in Ireland from June 7 as outdoor hospitality reopened.
“However, restrictions in both markets remain, with the timing and nature of further easing still uncertain.
“The full reopening of hospitality in the UK was recently delayed by four weeks and is now anticipated over July and August 2021, whilst the reopening of indoor hospitality in Ireland has also recently been delayed, with a revised date yet to be announced.”
In the week to last Sunday, C&C delivered to 82 per cent of the outlets in the comparative week in 2019.
The firm added: “Given social distancing and indoor restrictions remain in place, volume throughput is adversely impacted through the customers that are currently operating. Nevertheless, we are encouraged by trading in recent weeks, with good weather aiding outdoor trading over the period.”
Chief executive David Forde said: “Despite restrictions still in place and confirmed delays to full reopening, we remain cautiously optimistic about the gradual recovery of the hospitality sector in our core markets of the UK and Ireland, and we look forward to continuing to support our customers as restrictions are removed.
“As we navigate through this period, our focus is to continue to build and develop our brand and system strength, which underpins C&C’s position as the leading brand-led distributor in the UK and Irish drinks market.”
He added: “Our recent successful capital raise has strengthened the balance sheet and positions the group to take advantage of opportunities to strengthen and grow our business as we return to a more normalised trading environment.”
C&C Group is a FTSE 250 company headquartered in Dublin and listed on the London Stock Exchange. It also has a minority investment in the Admiral Taverns tenanted pub group.
In March, the group said it was “primed and ready” to serve its on-trade customers when the hospitality sector was allowed to reopen as it outlined millions of pounds in cost savings.
It has taken a series of steps to mitigate, where possible, the negative financial and operational impacts of the coronavirus crisis.
Updating investors, the group said its off-trade volume share in its three core brands had grown over the period. Tennent’s Scottish lager volume share of 26.6 per cent for the 12-month period ended January 24, represented growth of 1.2 percentage points.