Few major companies want hospitality reopened more than C&C

The cidermaker needs pubs back and booming

 C&C has boosted the off-trade share for Bulmers cider in Ireland by 3.7%

C&C has boosted the off-trade share for Bulmers cider in Ireland by 3.7%

 

Few Irish stock market-listed companies have as much riding on a successful easing of lockdown as the Bulmers/Magners cidermaker C&C. It badly needs pubs to be back open as soon as possible, as its full-year results showed on Wednesday.

The damage caused by repeated lockdowns in its core Irish and UK markets was evident in C&C’s 56 per cent decline in full-year revenues to just under €737 million. Yet just as telling was the surprise £151 million (€174.8m) rights issue that it also announced alongside its financial results.

C&C had already been to the well with its bankers three times during the pandemic to have covenants waived on its loans. It needed a more sustainable option, and so it has turned to shareholders to plug the gap. Much of the cash raised will be used to reduce its gearing, with net debts at €441.9 million.

The company has a decent stable of brands. but it is determined not to offload any of them as much as it could use the proceeds. If the pandemic is conquered in Britain and Ireland, it wants to be ready with its full arsenal to capitalise on any pent-up demand for the pub.

C&C boosted the off-trade share for Bulmers in Ireland by 3.7 per cent, and for Tennants in the UK by 1.1 per cent. It was a solid off-trade performance, especially for Bulmers which already had a share of more than 46 per cent of the segment its Ireland. But a return of punters to pubs will be transformative.

C&C’s chief executive David Forde on Wednesday described Ireland’s pub restrictions as “the most restrictive in the world”.

The Government is expected to lay out a tentative timetable on Friday for the full reopening of the sector. Assuming the fast-spreading Indian variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 doesn’t throw things off course, few big companies will be as interested in the announcement as C&C.

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