Gaymer Cider Company, a division of Constellation Europe, is facing a consumer backlash against the relaunch of its Blackthorn cider brand.

Blackthorn, which has a sales stronghold in the southwest of England, has been snubbed by a number of pubs and consumers in Bristol, following Gaymer's decision to change the recipe and lower the alcohol content.

Advertising hoardings promoting the new cider have been defaced, while the Bristol Evening Post has reported that several pub landlords are refusing to stock the new Blackthorn.

Jase Farr, a Bristol Evening Post reader, said on the newspaper's online forum: "I do hope Gaymers will listen to their loyal customers and reconsider their actions and reinstate the real Blackthorn and not the second rate product that they are currently sadly promoting."

Gaymer Cider spent GBP1.5m (US$2.2m) on a relaunch across the off and on-trade last month, which involved a more "contemporary" brand logo and the brand's abv being reduced from 5.5% and 5%.

Peter Spencer, managing director for Gaymer Cider Company, said today (8 April) that the firm cares about its consumers and listens to their views.

"We asked hundreds of Blackthorn and other cider drinkers in the Bristol area to help us develop a new taste that would both win the respect of loyal Blackthorn fans and appeal to new cider drinkers."

"While we are disappointed that a minority have responded negatively, the majority of our customers prefer the new look and taste of Blackthorn and have very much welcomed the change."

The company said that internal sales figures show the brand has "exceeded expectations" for March.

Gaymer said it has no plans to revert back to the old Blackthorn and is offering each reader of the Bristol Evening Post a chance to try the new Blackthorn for free.

"We always listen to our customers and value their thoughts on all of our products," a spokesperson for Gaymer told just-drinks.