Gaymer Cider Co, the division of Constellation Europe, has relaunched its Blackthorn cider brand in the UK with a GBP1.5m marketing drive.

Blackthorn is being relaunched across both the off and on-trade with a more "contemporary" brand logo and a lower alcohol content, Gaymer announced last night (5 March).

The brand's abv has been reduced from 5.5% and 5% in the off-trade and on-trade respectively to a blanket 4.7%, said the firm, adding that the move was prompted by consumer research.    

It will spend GBP1.5m to market the new-look Blackthorn, with a series of samplings and consumer events planned for the brand's stronghold in the southwest of England. 

"The cider category is in absolutely rude health," said Gaymer managing director Peter Spencer at a launch event last night.

He said that, despite media attention on the decline of C&C Group's Magners cider brand, UK cider sales are rising by 7% in value terms year-on-year. Total cider sales in the UK amount to GBP1.85bn.

Gaymer, he said, has seen a growing proportion of its sales on the off-trade, reflecting a shrinking on-trade market that is currently seeing 40 pubs per week closing their doors for good.

Total UK cider sales are growing by 16% in the off-trade, while they are only 3% up in the on-trade, according to Gaymer.

Spencer said that Gaymer remains "very committed" to its on-trade customers.

The relaunched Blackthorn is being targeted at 21-45-year-old working males, who typically would not have children. Gaymer is keen emphasise the brand's southwest provenance and the use of English apples.