C&C eyes Brexit bounce

By Geoff Percival

C&C hopes to pick up a number of packaging contracts from international winemakers in need of an EU base after Brexit becomes a reality.

The Dublin-headquartered drinks group said, earlier this year, that it had received a number of approaches from rival businesses looking for it to act as a contract brewer for them after Brexit.

C&C’s chief executive Stephen Glancey reiterated that at the cider and beer maker’s agm in Dublin, yesterday, but suggested any such additional business would likely be in the area of wine packaging for South American or Australian labels unable to package their EU-bound product in the UK after Brexit.

Mr Glancey said there is a “good chance” C&C will win some of that business, based on its strong existing Gilbeys wine distribution business.

He also confirmed that the group will invest between €1m and €2m on increasing capacity at its Bulmers cider production facility in Clonmel at some point in the relatively near future. He said production at its Five Lamps craft beer brewery in Dublin may also have to be increased, or a new brewing site found, but that would be a longer-term consideration.

In a brief trading update, C&C — most notable for its twin Bulmers/Magners cider brands and Tennent’s lager — said trading has been “positive” since the start of its financial year in March; with growth mainly driven by the World Cup and the current good weather.

“In Ireland, good early summer weather has helped Bulmers return to moderate volume growth in the year to-date,” the company said.

C&C’s shares — up nearly 10% over the past 12 months — rose almost 2% on the back of the trading update.

In May, C&C reported a 7% drop in operating profit and a 5% fall in revenues for the 12 months to the end of February. The year also saw further heartache for its struggling US operations, where sales fell 25% on the back of declines in the overall cider market.

Asked by shareholders about the US, Mr Glancey said the market hasn’t worked for C&C and the group’s presence there “hasn’t been a great experience”.

However, he said the focus will be on trying to generate some growth in the American operations over the longer-term. “I think over time we’ll get some value back into it,” he said, adding there has been low level growth in the US in the current year.

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