Drinks group C&C said that its net revenue for the six months to the end of August slumped by 55.4% to €386.7m which resulted in an operating loss of €11.7m.

C&C said the outbreak of Covid-19 coincided with its financial year end, which meant that the entire six month performance being reported today was impacted.

The Bulmers and Magners cider maker said that on the back of strong demand in the off-trade and the gradual reopening of the on-trade in its core markets, the business returned to profit generation in July up to September. 

C&C also said that a part of a strategic review, it had sold the non-core Tipperary Water Cooler business, for an initial consideration of €7.4m.

Further consideration may be payable and is dependent on further revenue targets being met, the company added.

The company said its supply chain and production facilities remained fully operational through Covid-19, including its Clonmel manufacturing facility.

It noted that in Ireland the pub trade began re-opening from the end of June, but through a combination of local and subsequent national restrictions the on-trade has not been allowed to fully re-open since March. 

As at August this year the business was trading with 47% of the outlets it traded with in the same time last year, it added.

In July, C&C named David Forde as its new CEO. The former Heineken executive will join the company on November 2.

Incoming C&C CEO David Forde

Stewart Gilliland, C&C Group's interim executive chairman said that although it expects the pace of recovery will continue to vary, as the largest independent alcohol distributor across the UK and Ireland, the business is structurally integral to the markets it serves. 

"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.

Mr Gilliland said it was encouraging to see the business return to profit alongside the reopening of the on-trade, or pub business, 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," he said. 

But he also warned that the outlook for the on-trade sector remains "challenging" with limited near-term visibility. 

"We expect to see reduced volumes in the on-trade continue for the near term partially offset by increases in the off-trade (off-licenses). We are adapting to this temporary change in consumption dynamics and whilst it will invariably reduce short term profitability, we fundamentally believe in the medium and long term outlook for the on-trade channel," the C&C interim chairman said.

"The scale, reach and customer focus of the Group’s brand-led distribution model should, in time, enable us to translate any improvement within this channel into superior profitability," he added.

He said in terms of ensuring C&C's ability to trade effectively through this "extraordinary period", the company has enhanced its liquidity position, diversified its sources of funding, extended its borrowing facilities while reducing operating costs and maximising available cash flow. 

C&C said that net revenues in its Irish operations for the six month period fell by 24.6% to €90.7m, while operating profits slumped 93.8% to €1.6m.

Net revenues in the company's Great Britain operations decreased by 37.4% to €103.9m while operating profits sank by 74.6% to €6.2m.

C&C makes, markets and distributes branded beer, cider, wine, spirits and soft drinks across the UK and Ireland. Its brands include Bulmers and Magners cider, Tennent's beer, Five Lamps craft beer, Tipperary Water; and Finches soft drinks.