Taunton may head into beer: Cider maker examines overseas sales opportunities

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The Independent Online
TAUNTON CIDER, the maker of Diamond White and Dry Blackthorn ciders, is considering venturing outside its core operation into the distribution and marketing of beer.

The plans to expand into beer represent an admission that the company is within sight of fulfilling its ambitions with cider.

However, Taunton said that as well as looking at the marketing and distribution of beer it was examining the possibility of selling its cider overseas.

Taunton yesterday presented its first set of annual results since the company floated on the Stock Exchange last summer. Pre-tax profits amounted to pounds 17.6m in the year to 1 May compared with pounds 6.6m last time. The comparable profits were depressed by interest on borrowings, which were wiped out with the flotation proceeds. Operating profit was pounds 19.7m, an 18 per cent improvement. All the growth was derived from higher sales, with the operating profit margin slipping slightly from 16.9 per cent to 16.8 per cent.

Peter Adams, chief executive, said that Taunton was unaffected by the price war being waged by beer suppliers. His aim was to maintain the operating margin rather than increase it.

Earnings per share - adjusted to allow for the effect of the flotation cash - rose 31 per cent to 12.2p. The dividend is 6p.

Taunton also published its annual report yesterday, which showed that Mr Adams took a salary cut despite the healthy profit increase. With qualifications for bonuses reduced, he earned pounds 137,000 compared with pounds 143,000.

Shares were unchanged at 220p. They have risen steadily from flotation at 140p 12 months ago.

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