C&C GROUP has hailed its acquisition of wholesaler business Matthew Clark as potentially transformational for the company, as it said its Tennent’s Lager brand defied weather disruption to outperform the wider beer market.

Dublin-based C&C reported a seven per cent fall in operating profits to €86.1 million in the year ended February 28, citing the effects of currency headwinds, competition in the Irish market and one-off costs relating to setting up its new cider distribution deal with AB InBev.

After year-end the company swooped to buy Matthew Clark and wine wholesaler Bibendum shortly before their parent group Conviviality went into administration in April.

The deal added a UK-wide wine and spirit wholesaler in Matthew Clark and a major wine distributor in the London area to the C&C business, which already included significant brewing and wholesale operations in Scotland and Ireland.

Bibendum supplies mainly wine to around 5,000 “top-end” pubs and restaurants within the M25 corridor, while Matthew Clark supplies some 19,000 pubs in the UK.

However, with C&C largely a bulk beer supplier, there is little overlap between the operations. C&C now has a headcount of around 3,200 staff is bringing 2,000 on board with the deals.

C&C chief executive Stephen Glancey said: “It’s hugely exciting because it gives [us] a national platform which we didn’t have previously. It also gives us relationships with other brand owners and suppliers.

“You’ve gone from a regional player in Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to a national player in the British Isles. We are the biggest supplier in the British Isles for wine. It has got the prospect of being transformational.”

Mr Glancey said C&C’s Tennent’s business had “excelled” during the year, with net sales revenues for the brand climbing by 5.3% in Great Britain. That came as the overall business in Scotland saw operating profit rise 5.2% to £32.6m. Mr Glancey admitted the snow in winter had put pressure on the firm’s ability to supply pubs in suburban areas, but noted: “Broadly, we were pretty positive about the weather and the impact on trade. There’s no complaints.”

Meanwhile, Mr Glancey said it was too early to judge the impact minimum unit pricing will have on alcohol sales in Scotland. C&C backed the move.