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The Bulmers well could run dry if England progress in the World Cup next month say beer bosses

C&C chief executive David Forde says supply chain at the Bulmers maker is ‘pretty robust’

C&C Group says customer service levels are getting back to where they want to be

Caoimhe GordonIndependent.ie

Supplies of some booze could be at risk of running dry if England win next month's World Cup, according to the head of Bulmers maker C&C Group.

Overall, chief executive David Forde described the post-pandemic supply chain as “pretty robust”, with customer service levels returning to “where we would like them to be”.

Next month's soccer World Cup in Qatar could put some strain on supplies, especially if England advance through the tournament, he admitted.

“Were England to go on and win the World Cup, yeah, we might face some challenges,” Mr Forde told theIrish Independent.

“But they would be positive challenges as that would mean demand is pretty high and people are out celebrating.

“That’s a bit of a bet – we don’t know how that is going to work out,” he added

C&C manufactures, markets and distributes branded beer, cider, wine, spirits, and soft drinks across the UK and Ireland, including Bulmers, Magners and Tennent’s.

Overall, Mr Forde described the supply chain as “pretty robust”, with customer service levels returning to “where we would like them to be”.

He also welcomed the reforms to licensing laws that will see opening hours of pubs and nightclubs extended across the country.

“Irish society and the demographics of Ireland have changed unrecognisably,” he said. “People like to socialise in different ways than we would have done 50, 60, 70 years ago.

“To think there’s been very very little changes in the laws for such a long period, or even a review, doesn’t make sense given the type of change that’s taking place In Ireland.”

He also pointed to transformations in consumer habits following the impact of Covid restrictions.

“Take-home was a slight winner post-pandemic,” Mr Forde said. Working from home has eliminated the “after-work drink occasion” on a Thursday or a Friday as many prefer to avoid the commute, he said.

However, people now head out earlier in the week when they do socialise.

Thursday is now often busier than Friday, he explained, although not as hectic as Friday nights pre-pandemic.

Elderly people have also reduced pub visits, even following the lifting of restrictions. “I would call it a Covid lag,” Mr Forde said. “People may be a little bit nervous about big groups indoors in hospitality.”

He said that while this is not a massive category for them, those visits were mainly important to combat loneliness.

The company reported a rise in revenues and profits in the first half of its financial year despite lingering inflationary pressures.

“There’s no doubt we are seeing inflation in input costs driven primarily by energy,” he said. “We’ve passed on price increases; I think we’ve been reasonable.

“As long as the input pressure remains, you will see prices increases in the market. In the short term I think it’s likely to continue.”

Cost inflation is currently having an impact on consumer sentiment, with revenues for September down 5pc compared with the same month last year.

Operating profit rose to €54.9m in the six months ended August 31. This marked a rise of 254.2pc.

Net revenue increased by 35.6pc to €903m compared with the first half of C&C’s last financial year.

In Ireland, sales rose by 30.5pc to €150.7m, while profits rose by 128.9pc to €19m.

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