Drinks group C&C says it turned a small profit in December despite trading conditions being hit by Covid restrictions across the UK and Ireland.In an update on its third quarter, C&C said its performance was modestly ahead of expectations, driven by a return of consumers to hospitality outlets, cost reductions and price rises to deal with input cost inflation.

The Dublin-based producer of Bulmers cider and Tennent’s beer also put the success down to “effective management” of UK supply chain disruption.

It said that during December, C&C traded directly with 81% of on-trade outlets compared to 90% the same time last year, delivering 64% of the volume against an expectation of 90%.

“While December’s performance was consequently behind expectation, the group generated a modest profit for the month,” the company said.

The company said its operating profit outcome for the second half of its financial year will be affected by the nature, extent and duration of government-imposed Covid restrictions.

“Consequently, C&C will provide an updated operating profit range in its FY2022 pre close trading statement in March,” it added.

“As the pre-eminent brand led drinks distributor in the UK and Ireland, we have demonstrated our ability to effectively service demand during this period,” the company said.

“We continue to drive efficiencies throughout our business in the form of permanent operating cost reduction,” it added.

The company had said in October that it expected annual operating profit of €50-55m for fiscal 2022.