The UK's love affair with Magners cider continued to cool in 2009, with sales of the brand slipping two per cent in the six months to August 31, 2009.
C&C Group, the Irish-based group which manufactures Magners, said the decline in both the on-trade and off-trade was offset by growth in other markets, resulting in overall flat sales compared with the same period last year.
Magners Draught was growing in the UK, the group said, "but at a slower rate than anticipated", while Magners Pear was serving to boost the brand's profile.
Bottled Magners saw a tough August in the on-trade, according to the group, which served to "highlight the challenge in turning around the pint bottle performance".
C&C reported overall half year turnover down 10.5 per cent at €257.5m (£240.7m), while operating profits dipped 13.6 per cent to €57.4m (£53.6m).
The group said it was on track to pay a dividend of six cents (5p) at the end of the current financial year.
Now managed by former Scottish & Newcastle chief executive John Dunsmore, C&C has implemented a series of measures to arrest a fall in profitability, including cutting 120 jobs, a wage freeze and pay cuts.
Dunsmore said the outlook remained challenging, despite a positive start to the current financial year.
"However, we remain on track to deliver on the objective of stabilised volumes and a full year operating profit outcome in line with our stated guidance."
Meanwhile Dunsmore said the recently acquired portfolio of Tennents lager was "a compelling strategic fit" for the group.