The UK boss of Magners has put its recent sales ­revival down to improved relationships with retailers and reduced shelf prices.

Speaking exclusively to The Grocer, the boss of C&C's Magners GB division, Gordon Johncox, said past failings included a lack of communication with customers and brand ­pricing that was "too ­expensive".

Magners is credited with starting the cider boom when it launched in 2005, but had been in sales decline since 2007. In October last year, Irish owner C&C announced a return to "modest" volume growth, but latest figures show a Magners revival now in full flow, with volume up 22% and value growth of 13% [Nielsen MAT 22 January]. The overall cider category has grown by a more modest 6% in volume and 8% in value.

"Through not having the right levels of engagement with customers we'd allowed ourselves to become far too expensive," said Johncox. "So if you took Christmas 2009 Nielsen figures show Magners was at a 37% price premium to its biggest competitor. This Christmas it was 26%. We've now got a much more appropriate ­differential."

The brand still "commands a pretty substantial premium" to its nearest competitors, but at the right market position, he added. The company had learned from past mistakes and was now far more ­customer-focused.

"If you look at our performance over the past 12 months, currently we're outperforming both the on trade and the off trade by some distance, so we're confident that over the past year we've really got the brand back where it used to be, at the forefront of customers' and consumers' minds," he said.

The recent strong sales were also due to new pack formats and the Magners 2010 campaign "Method in the Magners", he added.

Magners GB was officially created last September following C&C's acquisition of the Gaymer Cider Co for £45m in December 2009.

The new company now had a range of ciders to meet every consumer need and occasion, added Johncox.