The Irish drinks group has distanced itself from the Portman Group

The Irish drinks group has distanced itself from the Portman Group

C&C Group has left UK drinks industry watchdog the Portman Group after three-and-a-half years as a paying member. 

The Irish firm's membership of the body officially finished on 30 June, after it gave a year's notice. The Magners producer, which joined the body in December 2010, was one of ten corporate funders of the Portman Group. However, it remains as a signatory to the group's code of practice. 

Speaking to just-drinks today, Paul Bartlett, C&C's head of corporate social responsibility, denied the move was related to the company's support for minimum unit pricing, while many other drinks firms are against it.

"In the UK, we are very focussed on Scotland and a lot of what we want to do with local communities we can get on with under our own steam and direct resources towards that, rather than joining in with the big multi-nationals," he added. "It's not about a big fallout, or one issue, it's just about us focussing locally." 

But Bartlett admitted C&C believes the body has shifted in its outlook. "The Portman Group has changed," he said. "There's only one UK-focussed company on the council of the group (SHS Drinks). All the other companies have an international perspective and their reason for being in The Portman Group is different from us."

Henry Ashworth, the Portman Group's CEO, said: “Portman Group members lead the drinks industry in promoting responsible drinking and reducing alcohol-related harm across the UK through effective self-regulation and partnership working. 

“This leadership is in the long-term interests of the majority of responsible consumers as well as all those who produce and sell alcoholic drinks. It is a shame that C&C Group plc has chosen to step down from this leadership role in the UK and Ireland."

The Portman Group's nine funding members are: Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands, Carlsberg, Diageo, Heineken, Molson Coors, Pernod Ricard, SABMiller and SHS Drinks.

It also has around 140 companies - including producers, importers, wholesalers, retailers and trade associations - signed up to comply with its marketing code. 

To read an exclusive just-drinks interview with the Portman Group's CEO, click here