MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Hard Cider Company LLC — maker of Woodchuck Hard Cider, the top selling cider brand in the United States — has conditionally agreed to combine with C&C Group, maker of cider brands in Ireland and the U.K. The transaction, which is subject to competition and regulatory approvals, will allow the company to fully harness and maximize the growth of its U.S. cider business.
Terms of the deal were not announced. Business news websites this morning said the sale was valued at $305 million.
Vermont Hard Cider will operate on a standalone basis as a wholly-owned subsidiary of C&C. Bret Williams will remain the president and CEO of Vermont Hard Cider. The Woodchuck brand will remain firmly rooted in Vermont, using its current workforce, officials said in a press release. C&C Group has committed to move forward with the planned cidery construction in Middlebury.
Sales of hard cider in the U.S. are experiencing tremendous growth. As a category, sales are up almost 60 percent over last year. Woodchuck Hard Cider’s growth continues at 25 percent a year. With this swift growth comes the need for a deeper investment, company officials said. Woodchuck Hard Cider Co. was extablished in a rural Vermont garage in 1991.
C&C Group is a cider company, making cider in the U.K. and Ireland since 1935. They are committed to using the finest ingredients, supporting local agriculture and working to reduce their environmental footprint, according to company officials. C&C will invest in the expansion and future of the Vermont Hard Cider Company, providing a solid base for the overall U.S. portfolio. The expansion will enable C&C to participate further in the expected growth of the U.S. cider category and will offer the potential for more jobs in the local community, officials said.
“We recognize what Vermont Hard Cider has done to support and grow the cider industry in the United States. The cider category wouldn't exist today, if not for the hard work they have put in over the last two decades,” said C&C chief executive Stephen Glancey. “Their ability to innovate rare and limited batch ciders serves to push the category forward in the years to come. It is an exciting time to be in the cider business and we are excited to be leading the way.”
“C&C recognizes that in order to maintain Woodchuck’s current success, its core values must remain intact. The brand and company will remain rooted in Vermont, utilizing its current workforce, and the quality of the liquid will not be compromised,” Vermont Hard Cider's Brett Williams said. “It is our belief that significant opportunities for growth of the cider category are possible by combining these iconic cider brands.”