Brand delivers “strong” first-year performance for C&C
AN interim managing director is now in place at Tennent Caledonian Breweries following the departure this month of long-standing boss Mike Lees.
Steve Annand, a former TCB sales director who has been with the firm for four years, is in charge of Scotland’s biggest lager brand while owner C&C Group completes its search for Lees’ successor. Annand, who joined the Glasgow brewer from Anheuser-Busch Europe, is among the candidates being considered. He stepped into the role as the Tennent’s brand continues to prosper as part of C&C, which acquired the business in 2009.
Since then the brand has been marketed more assertively, with its first bout of television advertising in four years appearing in 2010, and Tennent’s signing up to sponsor Rangers and Celtic.
Two new ads in the ‘there’s method in the Magners’ campaign launched last month.
C&C has also signalled its commitment to the trade through TCB by opening loan facilities for pubs looking to expand or refurbish, and by relocating its customer service, telesales and finance functions to the Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow.
Annand, who confirmed the next ads featuring the caricature of founder Hugh Tennent would appear soon, said the brand is in good shape, though he admitted the continuing changes in alcohol legislation were a challenge.
“We’ve seen our share grow in the on-trade, which is very positive,” he told SLTN last week. “We will see the landscape change with a new [Scottish] government coming in. Our customers will be asking what the changes [brought by the Alcohol Act] will mean and we’ll be taking an industry lead and working with the trade bodies to help them understand.
“Now they are a majority government, there’s a real opportunity for the SNP to stamp their mark on legislation for the on and off-trades.”
Annand reiterated Tennent’s long-standing support for minimum pricing, though was cautious not to present it as a panacea for the on-trade’s ills. He also said the SNP’s plans to introduce the scheme could founder for legal reasons.
“We don’t support any particular party, but we have been clear on our support for minimum pricing as part of the solution [to Scotland’s alcohol problems],” he said. “There’s no doubt there’s too big a gap between the on and off-trades on pricing.”
Annand was speaking the day before C&C Group published its annual results for the year to February 28, 2011.
Reporting a 17% rise in operating profit of 105 million (before exceptional items), it said the volume of Magners sold grew 4.0% year on year, reflecting growth of 3.6% in Great Britain – ahead of the wider cider category.
C&C said its integration of acquired businesses, including Tennent’s and Gaymers, left it “on track for synergy targets and a strong first year contribution from Tennent’s”. Net debt reduction from 365m to 6m was also reported at the end of February. “C&C is pleased to report a strong financial and operating performance for the period in review delivering earnings growth in line with our stated guidance,” said CEO John Dunsmore.