C&C Group saw its performance in the three months to the end of November exceed expectations, although December was hampered by the return of pandemic-related restrictions in its key markets.

The Magners brand owner, which also owns the Matthew Clark and Bibendum distribution businesses in the UK, said in a trading update that fiscal-Q3 trading had been “modestly ahead of … the stated guidance”. A healthier on-premise channel domestically and in the UK for the Ireland-based company was offset, however, by the run-up to Christmas.

In December, sales volumes only attained 64% of the same month in 2020 – C&C had initially forecast reaching 90%. “Trading conditions [in the month] for our on-trade business were significantly impacted by renewed government restrictions across the UK and Ireland,” C&C noted.

While flagging the introduction of price increases to help counter “inflationary cost pressures” in the quarter, the company also said it is focusing on “permanent operating cost reduction”, without providing specific details.

Ongoing concerns around the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have also impacted the group’s day of analyst presentations, which has been postponed from the planned date of 19 January.

In late October, C&C reported a 65% year-on-year rise in sales during the first half of fiscal-2022, which runs until the end of February.

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