Magners’ flagship status is secure after triple cider deal

C&C buys Blackthorn, Olde English and Gaymers brands from Constellation.

C&C Group’s acquisition of Gaymer Cider Company will enable the company to protect the premium positioning of its flagship Magners brand, according to branding experts.

The drinks maker has bought the Blackthorn, Olde English and Gaymers brands as part of a £45m deal – expected to be completed in the New Year – that sees it take control of Constellation Brands’ UK cider business.

Simon Davies, former marketing director of Molson Coors and founder of integrated agency MMIXX, says the acquisition enables C&C to access the rest of the cider market without “damaging the premium positioning of Magners”.

C&C says the acquisition also provides it with an established draught cider brand in Blackthorn.

According to Jamie Lister, director of drinks marketing consultancy Drink Works, C&C’s on-trade distribution combined with Gaymers draught infrastructure could enable Blackthorn to become a competitor to Scottish & Newcastle’s Strongbow.

But he adds that C&C might have to make a choice between its Magners Pear variant, launched earlier this year, and the more established Gaymers Pear cider. “Does it make sense to make both?” he asks.

However, about 80% of Gaymers Cider sales are off-trade – a sector that is expected to grow faster than sales in pubs and clubs over the next 12 months.

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