C&C Group has put the trials of its Magners cider brand in Europe on hold as it focuses on the UK.

The Irish company, which has seen Magners sales nosedive since the brand's explosion on to the cider scene in 2005-2006, said yesterday (16 March) that, while the roll-out will continue in Barcelona and Munich, there are no current plans to expand this into Europe, beyond the two cities.

Speaking to just-drinks at a press briefing in London, the managing director of C&C's Magners GB business, John Holberry, said: "A year ago, this business was facing some pretty serious difficulties as a consequence of 18 months of sitting in the same place in the (premium cider) category. What we desperately needed was a raft of new products, a new focus on the UK in both sales and marketing terms, as well as some new above-the-line (advertising).

"We're halfway through dealing with all those issues. We've got a great new sales team, a great new marketing team, and we've brought a raft of new launches into the UK and Irish markets, led by Magners Draft and Light and now Pear.

"We seem to have stabilised our position and we're really excited about the new things we're bringing to market," Holberry continued. "Ultimately, we've got to deal with the things that we tried to go at a bit too early 12-18 months ago.

"So, we're on a hold in Barcelona and Munich with our cider launch. That doesn't mean we don't think there's a massive opportunity there in the future, it's just that there are other things to do.

"We intend to go back to it at some stage, but now is not the time. We're determined at the moment to focus on the UK. Once we've generated some growth back in our core markets, we'll go international."

The trials in Barcelona and Munich began towards the end of 2006.

The launch of the pear-flavoured variant of Magners in the UK was announced by C&C last month.