Raise your glasses
C&C Group have developed and created a very good business and production strategy, where they have developed a multi-beverage model that is true to their ethos of being a truly local producer
Writer Matt Bone
Project Manager Glen Newton
C&C Group plc are a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of branded cider and beer, proudly based in Dublin, Ireland. The Group are behind the best selling and leading Irish cider brands Bulmers and the widely regarded premium international cider Magners. The company also makes and distributes Tennent’s Lager, the iconic Scottish drink.
Keeping Up With Demand
In 2005, C&C were an Irish business selling cider to the local Irish market, but in 2006 the company launched the Magners brand to the rest of the UK, which became a major success. However, to keep up with demand from the UK market, the company decided to invest heavily in order to meet the projected sales of the cider. The Board of Directors appointed three new executives to run the business and by2009 the company were in a position to acquire the Irish, Northern Irish and Scottish business arms of Anheuser- Busch InBev, including the Tennent’s brand; thus expanding their business into the Scottish market and paving the way to a brighter future.
A Multi-Beverage Strategy
The company’s diverse and highly successful wholesaling approach has cemented the Group’s position as a market leader. Instead of just selling beer and cider, C&C Group have also branched out into wine, spirits and soft drinks in order to expand their market reach in order to further strengthen their position at the top.
As well as this multi-beverage strategy, C&C are also trying to break into the niche beverage market by investing in craft brewing. The company have made two investments in the last 12 months in the craft brewing sector and have recently built a small brewery on their Clonmel site in Ireland. The development has a capability of 100,000 hectolitres of beer a year. The intention at the start was to create a new Irish lager called Clonmel 1650, as 1650 was when Cromwell invaded Clone Mill.
In Scotland, C&C Group are just about to open a new site called Drygate, a joint venture with Williams Brothers. It will be a very small brewery being built with a restaurant and a bar with a sales outlet. The company have refurbished an abandoned building and view this as a way into this smaller crafts brewing sector.
Local Roots, International Appeal
C&C are proud of their origins however, they owe a lot to the strength of the UK cider and beer market. The company have always had a strong position in Scotland and Ireland; Ireland because of their origins and Scotland has been a major acquisition in the last five years. C&C are now focused on continuing to achieve sustainable growth across England through cider and beer, which is greatly assisted by summer sales of alcohol.
C&C Group have played an important role in the sponsorship of sports teams over the years. The Magners brand was the title sponsor of rugby union’s Celtic League beginning in 2006–07, when the league featured the top teams from Ireland, Wales and Scotland, and ending with the 2010–11 season.
In 2013, Magners replaced Tennent’s Lager as the main jersey sponsor for Celtic F.C. after the previous contract had expired, with Magners sponsoring Celtic’s shirts for three years. On 20th August 2013, Celtic wore the Tipperary Natural Mineral Water logo on the front of their shirts for their UEFA Champions League first-leg clash with FC Shakhter Karagandy due to Kazakhstan’s restrictions on alcohol advertising. Celtic switched to Tipperary Water as it is also owned by the C&C Group. The company view their sponsorship in sports, as an investment in the community and to local customers.
Minimum Pricing Changes
With the alcoholic beverages market driven by consumer tastes and trends, C&C Group are continually looking at new ways to invigorate their products and keep ahead of the trends that change with the seasons. One such trend that is coming, not from the consumer, but from the government, is that of minimum pricing and strength of alcohol.
The English government have been discussing minimum pricing for strong ciders and alcohol recently on the back of focus group campaigns about high strength products and the size of container the product is held in. A prime example of this is a 2-litre bottle of cider, which carries a high alcohol percentage.
From Ireland to America
C&C Group are always on the lookout for strategic and viable expansion opportunities both in the UK and abroad. One such foreign market is that of the USA. C&C Group has always had an export division and have already moved into the American market with early success, but with the US markets looking more and more viable, the group are looking to capitalise on this.
C&C Group proudly holds the number one position in Ireland with Bulmers, the number one position in Scotland with Tennent’s Lager, and various top products in England, therefore the next logical step is to invest in cider internationally, in particular the US market.
Getting the product to market is organised by a dedicated sales team who organise distributors and sales. C&C Group produce and package local to their market so the cost of shipping is greatly reduced, with the exception of the American and UK markets, which are supplied from Ireland and Scotland. With the American market opening up, the company may invest in brewing overseas in the long term, but right now product is sent over from Ireland.
Planning for the Seasons
Planning plays a pivotal role in an operation, but in a market that is as seasonal as alcohol production, C&C Group have had to plan that bit harder. Sales vary between the various products in the group’s portfolio, but cider is the most seasonal product currently on the books. It is one that always sells well in hot weather and not so well in winter, giving it definite peak season. On the other hand, beer is more stable, although it does still rise in the warmer months and also at Christmas and New Year festivities. Sporting events are also a very big draw for the alcohol market, and with the World Cup finals currently taking place during June and July, demand for alcohol will be at record levels.
Success Breeds Success
Over the years, C&C Group have developed and tweaked a very good business and production strategy, where they have developed a multi-beverage model that is true to their ethos of being a truly local producer who never neglects local markets. It is not just the local approach that has served them well; with strong leadership and teams that drive the multi-beverage business model forward, C&C Group can focus on crafting their strategies and marketing campaigns to incorporate new ideas.