Blog: Olly WehringC&C Group – One Dunsmore does not a done deal make

Olly Wehring | 17 March 2009

Into London town once again yesterday (16 March) to hear directly from the horse's mouth how C&C Group's Magners cider brand has been performing, and what the unit has up its sleeve for the (please, God) blisteringly hot British summer we've got coming.

While I was there, I had quite an interesting chat with John Holberry, the MD of Magners GB, and asked him if – and how - the company had changed since John Dunsmore, the former CEO of Scottish & Newcastle, took over the helm late last year.

“The company has been invigorated,” Holberry told me, “and is now prepared to make big decisions quickly. He also has brought with him a lot of experience in the cider market.” A fair point. After all, Scottish & Newcastle owned Magners' archest rival in the UK, namely Bulmers.

There have been several suggestions, meanwhile, that, following Dunsmore's success in getting a pretty good price for S&N out of Carlsberg and Heineken last year, maybe he was joining C&C to 'sex up' the company for a possible sale.

“We were so low-priced (in 2008) that you could say we were already very vulnerable to a sale,” Holberry said. “Bringing in a chief executive like John Dunsmore makes that less likely, as it would improve our performance and therefore make it less easy for somebody to buy us on the cheap.

“You can't really stop yourself from being sold,” he added. “Look at Anheuser-Busch! But you have to make sure that people can't buy you on the cheap. That was a worry for C&C last year. But John doesn't make it more likely that we'll be bought.

“But then, if we didn't get bought a year ago, why would we get bought in the current environment where we're a little higher-priced.”


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