Having expanded its Clonmel headquarters following outstanding sales of its Magners brand in Britain during the summer of 2006, things couldn’t have looked rosier for C&C, the owners of Bulmers.
But what a difference a year makes. The dreadful summer weather experienced on both sides of the Irish Sea this year was surely the primary factor in C&C’s decision to cut 140 jobs at the Clonmel facility last week. This represents a fifth of the company’s workforce.
Thursday last proved a tension-filled day for Bulmers staff, many of whom are drawn from the Carrick-on-Suir hinterland. News of who would retain their jobs or soon be in receipt of their P45s filtered down from management through the plant’s various departments during a fraught day.
According to one Bulmers employee: “It was literally a case of people waiting for phone calls to find out if they were still in a job or not.”
To anyone who’s familiar with the area, the expansion of Bulmers has transformed the approach into Clonmel, even necessitating the construction of a new roundabout to provide a new entry/exit point into the plant.
It was seen as one of several local success stories which had seen Clonmel moving forward positively from an economic perspective.
But one dreadful summer has significantly altered C&C’s complexion, illustrated by yesterday’s (Tuesday) news that its cider unit lost 20 per cent of its share in sales in British supermarkets last month. C&C’s shares have also nosedived, losing almost a quarter of their value this month alone.
Citing AC Nielsen figures, Davy Stockbrokers said that C&C’s cider stock had lost two-thirds of its value this year, having reached a high of €14.03 in January.
On Monday afternoon, you could have purchased a C&C share for €4.18, with the company now resigned to the fact that annual profits will not meet forecasted targets.
Having experienced bumper sales of Magners during the searing British summer of 2006, the repercussion of last summer’s poor weather, (the worst on record) came home to roost in Clonmel last week.
“The news will undoubtedly be very worrying for workers in the plant particularly for families in the run-up to Christmas and will certainly send shockwaves through the town,” said Senator Phil Prendergast. “It is always the case that any job losses are a major economic blow to the area.”
Added Senator Prendergast: “Unfortunately these losses are part of a pattern that we are seeing in the Irish employment market. Throughout the country we have had a series of announcements of job losses particularly in the manufacturing sector and this must ring alarm bells for the Government.”