|Founded||Belfast, Ireland (1852)|
Tony O'Brien, Chairman |
John Dunsmore, CEO
Stephen Glancey, COO
|Products||Alcoholic drinks, soft drinks|
|Revenue||€ 986.5 million (2015)|
|€ 115.0 million (2015)|
|€(81.0) million (2015)|
C&C Group plc (known prior to its flotation as Cantrell & Cochrane Limited) is a manufacturer, marketer and distributor of alcoholic drinks, particularly cider. It has production facilities across Ireland, Great Britain and the US, but its products are sold around the world.
The company was founded by Dr Thomas Cantrell, who opened a shop in Belfast in Ulster in 1852 selling soft drinks; he went into partnership with Alderman Henry Cochrane, thereafter trading as Cantrell & Cochrane Limited. Cochrane was appointed a baronet in 1903.
A particularly famous product in Ireland is C&C Club Orange, a carbonated orange soft drink developed in the 1930s. Other flavours were subsequently developed, such as Club Lemon and Club Rock Shandy (an orange and lemon blend). With C&C's increasing emphasis on alcoholic beverages, the Club range of soft drinks was sold to Britvic Ireland early in the 21st century.
In 1937, William Magner in Clonmel acquired the rights to produce the Bulmer's Cider brand in what later became the Republic of Ireland from H. P. Bulmer. C&C introduced Magners cider in 1999, as they only held rights to Bulmers in the Republic of Ireland and wanted to expand into the United Kingdom.
In America the company saw a chance to challenge soft-drink giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola with its own C&C Cola. An elaborate marketing scheme was launched in 1955, in connection with the television revival of 740 motion pictures produced by RKO Radio Pictures. C&C Television Corporation reprinted the entire RKO library for nationwide syndication in the United States. All of the features now began with a "C&C Movietime" title card, and TV stations showing the films would interrupt the telecasts for commercial mentions of C&C Cola. Although the broadcast rights to the RKO library now belong to Turner Entertainment, licences to the C&C prints were granted in perpetuity, and stations that bought 16mm prints of the C&C films in the 1950s continue to show them today.
The company started selling Magners cider in Northern Ireland, then in London, and then in the rest of Great Britain, Spain and Bavaria. Sales exploded in 2005 and 2006, and the company had to bring forward expansion plans to meet forecast demand. H. P. Bulmer, seeing their market share in the UK decline, relaunched their Bulmers cider in packaging similar to Magners and sold it to be served over ice, a concept introduced by C&C. As a result of better distribution and better pricing, H.P. Bulmer regained some lost ground.
C&C acquired the Tennents lager brand and Wellpark Brewery in August 2009 from InBev. Tennents is the largest lager brand in Scotland. Tennents also has a large share of the Northern Irish lager market and it was intended this would strengthen Magners' position as Tennents and Magners would share distribution. As part of the acquisition C&C will also exclusively distribute InBev brands on the island of Ireland, with the exception of Budweiser, which is distributed historically by Diageo.
In 2009 Magners had about 12% of the UK cider market. C&C cut production and laid off staff at Clonmel in 2009 due to overcapacity. In late 2009 C&C bought the Gaymer Cider Company giving them a large production facility in Somerset and a distribution warehouse in Bristol.
C&C sold its portfolio of spirits brands in May 2010. The largest of these was Tullamore Dew, the worlds second largest selling Irish whiskey after Jameson, Other brands are Carolans Irish Cream, Irish Mist and Frangelico, which are exported to over 80 international markets. In April 2010, C&C announced it was selling its Spirits & Liqueurs division to Scottish distillers William Grant & Sons for €300m. This would be used to pay down debt built up from the Tennents and Gaymers purchases. The division's 57 staff, it was announced, would transfer with the business on disposal. It was also revealed that William Grant, whose brands include Glenfiddich Scotch Whisky and Hendrick's Gin, would operate the division's packaging facility located at the group's manufacturing site in Clonmel, County Tipperary.
In December 2015, C&C announced that Pabst would be taking over distribution of its cider brands in the US. Pabst also gained the option to acquire C&C's two US cider brands, Woodchuck and Vermont. In January 2016, further retrenchment was announced with the closure announced of the company's Shepton Mallett factory. The factory was sold to Brothers Drinks Co in October and some C&C brands will continue to be produced there.
Like many alcohol companies, C&C invests heavily in sports sponsorship. Their brands have used this method extensively. Current and previous sponsorship includes the league now known as Pro14 (Magners League), Tennents Scottish Cup, London Wasps, Edinburgh Rugby, Bath Rugby, Celtic F.C., Dundee F.C. and Rangers F.C..
Production takes place at:
- Clonmel. The Home of Bulmers Irish Cider, and main cider production facility.
- Wellpark Brewery Glasgow. The historic home of Tennent's lager acquired in August 2009 from Inbev.
- Middlebury, Vermont. Production facility for Cider in the US, including the Woodchuck brand.
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