Troubled cidermaker HP Bulmer said sales volumes in the first five months of this year are in line with last year but margins were under pressure especially in the take-home market.

Bulmer told shareholders that it would now focus on its Strongbow and San Miguel brands in the UK as part of its turnaround strategy.

Chairman Will Samuel said the plan was at an advanced stage and would look to reduce the number of different pack designs and sizes; eliminate low value and loss making activities; scale back innovation; reduce debt by cutting back on capital expenditure and dispose of certain assets; and would refocus its international business.

Acting chief executive Colin Brown reviewed the company in the wake of last month’s sacking of both chief executive Mike Hughes and finance director Alan Flockhart. This followed the discovery of an “administrative blunder” of £3.8m at its off-trade business, dealing with supermarkets, off-licences and cash and carry outlets.

Samuel added that a shortlist had been drawn up for a new CEO after Mike Hughes’ departure.

Last month Bulmer warned that a raft of one-off items would hit full-year profits to April 2003 by some £14.5m.