C&C Group, the Irish and UK branded cider and beer business, has increased operating profit before exceptional items by 9% to Eur111.2 million for 2012, despite a 4.8% drop in net revenue to Eur480.8 million. Operating margins improved to 23.1% up 2.9 ppts reflecting the group’s strategic focus on driving brand value and greater operational efficiencies. This operating margin improvement was achieved without reducing the level of brand investment, with C&C Group continuing to invest approximately 13% of net revenue behind its key brands.
The Magners brand delivered positive volume and revenue growth in the competitive cider market in Great Britain and export volume growth of 28% principally driven by North American and Australian markets. The Tennent’s lager brand grew operating profits by 22.5% in the year; with Irish volumes rising by 64%.
Although group volumes declined 10.5%, the positive impact of brand mix reduced the net revenue decline to 4.8%, on a constant currency basis. Both the Republic of Ireland and GB markets experienced on-trade volume declines as consumer sentiment remained weak, while continued off-trade promotional activity and the challenge of new entrants resulted in another competitive year across the cider and beer categories.
However, the group’s well invested brands and market positions enabled it to grow operating profits in the year supported by tight cost control and ongoing innovation. In addition, the group improved its operational efficiencies by securing new third party packaging contracts.
C&C Group has also continued to expand its international cider business during the year with the acquisition of the Hornsby’s brand in the United States and with the contracting of new distribution agreements in key markets for its core Magners brand.
“This has been a robust year for the group,” says Stephen Glancey, chief executive of C&C Group. “C&C is now a focused cider-led LAD business. While we remain cautious about the near term prospects of our core markets, the continuing global growth of the cider category, and C&C’s unique position within the sector, underscore our belief in the prospects of our business. C&C’s balance sheet strength and free cash flow characteristics will enable us to capitalise on organic and acquisition growth opportunities.”