Wilson joins Matthew Clark

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The Independent Online
Matthew Clark, the cider maker which was hit hard last year by the competition from alcopops, has taken further steps to strengthen its management by appointing Graham Wilson, the former managing director of United Newspapers before it merged with MAI, as non-executive chairman.

He replaces Michael Garner, who took over as interim chairman following the death of Michael Cottrell last October. Mr Wilson started work yesterday and would give the job as much time as it needed, a spokesman said. His salary is not yet being divulged, but he will not have a package of incentives.

The board led by Peter Aikens, chief executive, has been under pressure from shareholders after the company issued a shock profits warning last autumn which it blamed on alcopops.

A new marketing strategy was introduced in January based on increased advertising, and a new marketing director was brought in from Guinness in February. Yesterday's appointment completes the management team of four executive and three non-executive directors.

On Monday a new brand, Blackthorn Gold, will be launched in draught and widget-can form. Babycham will be relaunched later in the year, followed by Dry Blackthorn and Diamond White, the strong cider which has borne the brunt of the alcopop assault.

The strategy of increased advertising has been criticised by analysts at BZW, who forecast it would lead to increased prices and falling sales.

The shares eased 1p to 276.5p yesterday.

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