C&C Group says it returned to profit over the summer

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C&C Group PLC (LON:CCR), the owner of the Bulmers and Magners drinks brands, in its interim results told investors it returned to profitability in the months of July through September.

Net revenue for the six months ended August 31, 2020, declined by 55.4% to EUR386.7mln, though the company noted that revenue from ‘off-trade’ sales increased by 15.6% and provided some mitigation to the losses resulting from pub closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Driven by strong demand in the off-trade and the gradual reopening of the on-trade in our core markets, the business returned to profit generation in July through to September,” said Stewart Gilliland, C&C’s interim executive chairman in the results statement.

He added: “Although we expect the pace of recovery will continue to vary, as the largest independent alcohol distributor across the UK and Ireland, our business is structurally integral to the markets we serve.

“Our near term focus is securing our position and enhancing the performance of the business, while positioning C&C to deliver for customers and shareholders over the long term.”

He added: “It is encouraging to see the business return to profit alongside the reopening of the on-trade in July. Our core local brands, Bulmers, Magners and Tennent’s, have demonstrated the inherent strength of their customer appeal, winning market share in the off-trade channel over the past six months.

“However, the outlook for the on-trade sector remains challenging with limited near-term visibility.”

First-half earnings (adjusted EBITDA) amounted to EUR4.9mln, down from EUR79.9mln in the same period last year, while it reported an operating loss of EUR11.7mln compared to a EUR64.4mln profit in the same period of the prior year.

Net debt increased to EUR371.6mln from EUR326.9mln at the end of February, and, the company said it had EUR415mln of headroom at the end of August – liquidity at October 20 was marked at EUR387mln.

The company described its liquidity position as ‘robust’.

“We have enhanced our liquidity position, diversified our sources of funding, extended our borrowing facilities while reducing operating costs and maximising available cash flow,” Gilliland added. “We remain confident in the inherent strength of our local brands, our unparalleled route to market and the medium to long term prospects for C&C.”

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