In the US, the focus of the last 12 months has been the integration of the wholesaler network, finance, back office, manufacturing and sales functions. This has been a significant task for the local management team. However, by the end of the financial year, integration was broadly complete and C&C’s entire US business is now managed and operated from a single site by a single team. Critically, we now have a high quality and stable wholesaler network.
The integration and re-positioning of the US business impacted performance over the past 12 months at a time when competition also intensified. Consequently, historic growth trends for the Woodchuck brand were arrested in a challenging year. Over the past 12 months, shipment volumes declined by 1% and market-wide depletions fell by 6%. In addition, Magners and Hornsby’s shipment volumes declined by 17% and 40% respectively. For Woodchuck, the subdued volume trends relative to the market are largely attributable to a lower rate of sale in the off-trade and lost points of distribution in the on-trade.
The integration completed in FY2014 established a stable platform for VHCC. Additionally, a series of commercial initiatives including the opening of a brand new, state of the art $34.0 million cidery, packaging updates and new marketing plans are designed to provide business impetus.