The C&C Group has announced that, following a fall in cider sales, the company's operational profit has declined 37.3% over the last financial year.

The group, best-known for its activities in the cider category, today (9 May) announced that operating profits for the year to the end of February was EUR125.2m (US$193.6m) - a decline of 37.3%. Revenue was recorded at EUR679m- 8.1% less than the last financial year.

According to C&C, much of the footfall was due to a weakening of cider sales, which declined 11%, largely due to a disappointing European summer.

The Irish company spent the year investing in the category, with cider marketing spend up 41% to EUR68m. Much of the increased spend went into trade marketing to enhance brand presence and distribution in the UK, where the company also plans to launch a draught version of its bestselling brand Magners later this month.

The decline in profits came despite a healthy whiskey market, in which C&C's Irish brand Tullamore Dew experienced growth of 22% in sales by volume over the year. The decline in profits also came in spite of C&C disposing its soft drinks business to Britvic last year for EUR246.6m.

Maurice Pratt, C&C's CEO, said: "In 2008/09 we expect to stabilise the group's financial and market performance, and, to deliver growth through the benefits of a streamlined organisation; a EUR10m cost reduction programme; and a series of marketing initiatives."