The UK cider industry has welcomed the appointment of John Dunsmore to the top job at C&C, the Irish-based owner of troubled cider brand Magners.

Dunsmore's move "is good for the category, the company and the brand", Simon Russell, a spokesman for the National Association of Cider Makers told The Grocer.

"Clearly the appointment of a man with the profile of John Dunsmore can only be good news but more important is the fact that he has the experience, contacts and industry knowledge."

Rivals also reacted positively. "Along with the strengthening of the UK team that has been taking place this year, this will definitely strengthen the company's position," Gaymer Cider Company MD, John Mills said.

However, Mills warned that Dunsmore had a big job ahead of him to turn the brand around.

"The issues the brand has of distribution and strategy remain," he said. "To overcome these issues the company needs to put serious resources and investment into the brand over a long period."

Some in the industry have suggested that Dunsmore's appointment, following his role as CEO of S&N in its sale to a Carlsberg-Heineken consortium for £7.8bn, was a signal the company was being earmarked for sale.

"Appointing a man with Dunsmore's proven experience seems to me a clear sign that the business will be up for sale once results improve," said one industry insider.

Dunsmore will be joined by two of his former S&N colleagues, Stephen Glancey, who joins as chief operating officer and Kenny Neison who joins as strategy director.

All three have been offered private-equity style pay deals with high share-based incentives, which has further fuelled rumours of a sale.

"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.