Total Irish volumes were also down by 5.8% during the year.
“Competitive pressure in Ireland” numbered among the factors leading to a 5% drop in revenues at parent company C&C Group to €548.2 million, according to Group Chief Executive Stephen Glancey, commenting on the company’s results for the year to the 28th February 2018.
According to C&C, “The competitive landscape across the Island of Ireland remains intense with significant new product launches by major international brewers across beer and cider, heightening competition for bar space and consumer attention”.
However a “resilient” performance across its branded portfolio in GB and Ireland meant that C&C Group-branded volumes rose 0.3% while revenues rose 0.8%.
C&C reports that its share of the RoI off-trade cider market rose to 57%, up one percentage point from the previous year with the Bulmers family of brands (including Outcider) holding its share of off-trade at 47%.
The off-trade channel accounts for 61% of RoI cider by volume and 35% by value here.
On-trade packaged Bulmers (including Outcider) brands “remains robust at 85%” (but down from 88% in the year to February 2017) but the brand’s overall volumes fell 6% reflecting reduced draught distribution to 69% from 77% MAT February 2017, according to report.
During the year C&C significantly increased its investment behind the Bulmers brand including the launch of Outcider and a new marketing campaign for Bulmers Original under the tag-line “100% Irish”.
Outcider has taken a 2% share of the off-trade cider market in its first 12 months.
On-trade packaged accounts for 28% of cider volumes and 47% by value while on-trade draught holds 11% of volume and 17% by value.
Overall, on- and off-trade volumes for the Bulmers brand family were 6% down on last year but should be considered against a strong brand performance in the comparative period (3% up) and the reduction in the on-trade cider category of 3%, points out the company.
C&C_invested an additional €3 million in Above The Line activity on the Bulmers brand during the year and the marketing focus will now progress onto more in-pub activation and a further refinement of the pint bottle livery to enhance standout.
Craft and Super-Premium
C&C’s Craft and Super-Premium portfolio had another good year in Ireland with the company increasing its financial investment in the Five Lamps brewery in Dublin. The brand is now in 303 pubs across Ireland (up 86% year-on-year) with a further 250 installs targeted for FY2019. To complement the Five Lamps range of craft lagers, the company has also launched its Dowd’s Lane range of traditional craft ales, stouts and cider.
“The combined Five Lamps/Dowd’s Lane business is among the largest craft businesses in Ireland,” claims the company.
The performance of C&C Gleeson, C&C’s wholesaling business, improved through the year with the wine business showing growth of 3%, benefitting from its distribution rights in Ireland for Blossom Hill, Santa Rita and Castella.
As anticipated, the new distribution terms on AB InBev beer resulted in the loss of a number of wholesaler accounts in Ireland which reverted to direct supply. These accounts had contributed revenues of €14.9 million and profits of €5.0 million in the prior period and therefore accounted for a significant part of the division’s reported volume revenue and operating profit declines in the period.
“You’ve got fragmentation on the customer end – the pubs are fragmented, with lots of single units – and for the first time you’re getting fragmentation in the branding,” Stephen Glancy told the Irish Independent, referring to the cider brand’s losing market share in pubs, “The millennium customer is promiscuous. They’re anti-brand. They want to drink lots of craft product. It’s changing the market.”