C&C Group, the drinks company behind Magners cider, has appointed former Scottish & Newcastle boss John Dunsmore as its new chief executive.

Dunsmore takes over the reins at the Dublin-based group from former head Maurice Pratt, who stood down last month after sales of the group’s flagship cider brand fell by 13% for the first six months of the year.

Dunsmore will now be tasked with overseeing what Pratt called a “fundamental review” of C&C’s business strategy amid fierce competition in the cider category.

He is accompanied to C&C by a brace of former S&N executives. Former group operations director Stephen Glancey joins the Irish group as chief operating officer, while Kenny Neison is named strategy director.

Dunsmore was chief executive of S&N between November 2007 and May 2008, stepping up to the top role after a spell as chairman and managing director of S&N’s  UK arm.

He resigned from the S&N board in the wake of the company’s £7.8bn takeover by European drinks giants Heineken and Carlsberg but stayed on for a three-month handover period alongside a number of other senior executives, including Glancey.

“The calibre of these appointments represents a major achievement for C&C and presents the group with a unique opportunity to address decisively the challenges it faces,” said C&C chairman Tony O'Brien.

“John and his colleagues will bring a renewed impetus and momentum to the group through fresh and innovative thinking, backed up by a wealth of experience in the international drinks industry and a track record of building shareholder value.”