A bad start to the year has continued for Ireland's C&C Group, reporting cider revenue down 11% in its first half.

The fall was expected to cause an 8% drop in group revenue for the six months ended 31 August, C&C said in a trading update today (29 August). Operating profit was likely to remain flat, compared to the same period last year, it added.

The Magners and Bulmers owner blamed the sales dive on poor summer weather, a more competitive market and a slowing economy.

Magners sales slid 15% during the half, while Bulmers dropped 11% in the Republic of Ireland, the group said. The Bulmers decline follows on from a 7% fall in the first half of 2007.

In the UK, C&C said: "The expected return to volume growth in Great Britain in Quarter 2 did not materialise due to the worsening economic environment, continuing competitive pressure and a slower realisation of the benefits from market initiatives."

It added: "C&C expects the current difficult market conditions to continue throughout the second half of the year, which, notwithstanding the benefit of the roll out of draught Magners in Great Britain, will result in continued pressure on revenue
and operating profit."   

The firm announced this month that it would release a Magners Mid Strength, at 2.3%abv, in an attempt to widen the brand's appeal.