Magners, the Irish cider brand credited with rejuvenating the moribund UK cider market, is being delisted by leading bar chain All Bar One in favour of Aspall Cider, effective from the end of this month.
A spokeswoman for All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butler says: “The main reason is the quality of Aspall, which fits the All Bar One brand and its aspirations.”
She adds: “We are keeping Magners in our other pubs, but we are adding other cider brands as well. The cider market has grown enormously this year and we need to provide our customers with a good range.” Mitchells & Butler is the UK’s biggest operator of managed pubs and pub restaurants, with around 2,200 outlets.
However, industry insiders say that Magners’ supply problems have become a major issue with some on-trade outlets and wholesalers, and could be to blame for the delisting. One cider company executive claims he has heard that “Magners is selectively withholding supply from wholesalers”.
C&C, the Irish food and drink group that owns Magners, last week admitted it was having problems keeping up with demand for the brand, particularly in the take-home market.
In a trading statement for the six months to the end of August 2006, C&C said Magners sales went up by 250% in that time, on top of a 130% increase in sales for the 2005/06 financial year.
It has had to bring forward a £50m investment in the Magners production line to try to meet demand (MW, September 7).
A spokeswoman for Magners says: “CO2 shortages affected production earlier this summer, but the situation has been resolved.”
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