Thatcher's reports some cider success

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Related tags: H. p. bulmer, Cider

Cider producer Thatcher's is demanding not to be "tarred with the same brush" as its big rivals.Companies such as Matthew Clark, Bulmers and...

Cider producer Thatcher's is demanding not to be "tarred with the same brush" as its big rivals.

Companies such as Matthew Clark, Bulmers and Merrydown have all experienced sales slumps affecting leading brands in recent times.

But Thatcher's has just produced figures which show that cider sales were up 55 per cent last year.

Executives put the company's success down to a strategy of maintaining and improving quality, rather than allowing itself to be carried along by the latest trends and cut-price products.

Bulmers was damaged by its venture into White Lightning cider, Merrydown by its launch of Two Dogs alcoholic lemonade and Matthew Clark lost out through bottled cider Diamond White.

The Thatcher's range includes Premium Press, Katy, White Magic, Old Rascal and Traditional Draught.

The company is about to spend £1m on new machinery.

Managing director Martin Thatcher said: "It's simply not fair to say that the cider industry is on the decline and tar all producers with the same brush. We still have a loyal following of traditional cider drinkers."

In one respect, however, all cider makers are united. Tomorrow's Budget is anxiously awaited by all producers, especially those under intense pressure to come up with new ideas to persuade the City that they are worth investing in.

Faith in Merrydown has never been lower and the company's failure to find a buyer demonstrates that.

Executives are currently preparing plans for a relaunch and a new strategy - but for that the company needs brands and a budget to market them.

Matthew Clark's share price still lingers around 193p, significantly down on the atrocious 350p to which the price slumped from 801p following its first profits warning a year ago.

The company has just unveiled detailed plans of its multi-million pound brands marketing strategy. Bulmer is not as far down the cycle.

None of them need the Chancellor to make their problems worse when he makes his speech tomorrow (25 May, 2001).

Related topics: Cider

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