City File: Merrydown freed from cider cycle

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The Independent Online
MERRYDOWN is no longer subject to the vagaries of the cider cycle. By picking up a clutch of brands that had performed badly under bigger owners - PLJ, Shloer Apple Juice, and Piermont - Merrydown is now nicely placed to cash in with a series of niche brands in the fastest-growing sector of the drinks market, that for up-market non-alcoholic beverages.

The market sent the shares up a tenth to their present 258p, following the purchases and the announcement that Merrydown would move to a full listing. But they are still nearly 150p below their high for the year, depressed by some droopy half- year figures.

The present 'cider play' rating largely ignores the fact that the new products will be in profit from day one, if only because of the reduction in overheads resulting from centralising production and distribution at Merrydown's existing premises. And whereas they were only marginal brands for their previous owners (Beecham and SmithKlein) Merrydown will give them a concentrated attention they have lacked hitherto.