The UK cider category was in dire straights back in 2005 as sales were tanking and it was about as fashionable as that year’s brick Motorolas and velour tracksuits are today.
But then in came Magners, which revolutionised the category overnight with its over-ice serve, making it trendy and profitable once more.
Sales soared for years, driven by the on-trade, but then the brand started to go the way of velour and Motorola as the market moved on and it was left behind by rivals.
After years of strife and declining sales, C&C has finally turned Magners’ commercial performance around, on the back of a new marketing campaign.
Its Hold True campaign, launched this time last year, is credited with an 11% rise in UK sales of Magners in the year to February 2017.
That is a reversal of years of decline, and suggests that Magners is ready once again to take on the likes of Bulmers, Kopparberg and Thatchers in the competitive battle for space in on-trade fridges.
C&C is now hoping to build on this growth after striking a deal in March with AB-Inbev, the world’s largest brewer, which will see the Stella Artois and Becks supplier distribute Magners in the UK.
'The double-digit volume momentum behind the Magners brand in the UK provided the right foundation to extend our distribution partnership with AB-Inbev,' chief executive Stephen Glancey said.
'The rationale for expanding the relationship is compelling for both parties, allowing each other to play to our route to market strengths, backed by a combined high quality beer and cider portfolio.
'This partnership has the potential to drive volume and value in Magners for years to come as the category rationalises and distribution synergies are delivered.'
C&C reported a 0.4% decline in operating profits for the year at €95 million on turnover that dropped 6.9% to €559.5 million. It blamed the fall on declines in wholesale, own-label business in the off-trade and US exports.