Tennent’s owner laments impact of stricter Scottish drink-drive limit

TennentsC&C, the Irish owner of Tennent’s lager, has become the latest drinks maker to claim that its profits are being impaired due to Scotland’s new lower drink-drive limit.

C&C has reported a 1.8 per cent rise in Scottish operating profits to €39.2 million (£28.3m) for the year to 28 February.

But the firm said that figures would have been even stronger if not for “challenging trading conditions” that it claimed have been created in the wake of the stricter rules introduced in Scotland at the end of last year.

The company may be particularly sensitive to what it believes are disappointing figures for Scotland after posting a full-year loss across its operations of €67.8m, against a previous profit of €95.5m.

Chief Executive of the C&C Group Stephen Glancey said the company had no objections to Government’s decision, recognising it was based on social responsibilty.

But it said sales, especially in rural areas and in venues like gold clubs had been the most affected.

However, he believes the impact is short term and like the smoking ban, drinkers would learn how to adjust to the new limit.

Mr Glancey said: “We are finding that over the last month or two people are going back to drinking. They are not going back to illegal drink driving but the fear factor in terms of the impact the next day has maybe dissipated a little. We don’t see it as being a big drag on our earnings to be honest.”

As well as tougher rules on drink driving north of the border, C&C’S has seen its cider business meet with strong competition at home and abroad driven partly by a growing craft cider movement.

Its brands such as Bulmers and Magners took a €150m impairment charge on its US operations.

C&C, which has rebuffed suggestions that it should quit America, said that the US cider market was “anticipated to grow dynamically but with a more stable competitive landscape in full-year 2016”.

C&C also booked €2.8m of restructuring costs on its operations in England and Wales, which have not fared as well as those in Ireland and Scotland.

The integration of Scottish wholesaler Wallaces Express is “well underway”, the company said, but has proven “complex”.

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