Aston Manor Brewery is seeking to grow exports of its brands as difficulties in the UK cider market continued to sour sales for a second consecutive year.

Revenues fell 11.5% to £108.7m in the 2015 as UK cider volumes across the category tumbled last year, new accounts revealed. Pre-tax profits also took a 23% hit as a result, down from £6.9m to £5.3m.

The £14.5m decline in UK sales was partially offset by a 28% jump in exports, up £500,000 to £2.3m.

MD Gordon Johncox said the business was looking to further diversify into overseas markets, as well as into other products.

He added Aston Manor was committed to maintaining investment in future growth, with capital expenditure of £5m in 2015 bringing the total to £30m over the past five years.

“We are committed to investment that increases our capability and capacity,” Johncox said. “When we do this we can do more for our customers, we increase our resilience and we are able to change our mix of business. Building a sustainable and successful cider business means exploiting profitable export opportunities selectively and strong performance in the UK.

“The progress we have made in the last few years in the UK has been to shift a greater proportion of our sales to more premium products and exit low-value business – whilst still doing better than the total market in what are very challenging conditions.”

The slump in sales in 2015 comes on top of a 4% fall in 2014 – the first time in eight years that growth had gone into reverse.

Johncox remained confident about Aston Manor’s prospects in 2016, despite expectations that industry volumes will continue to be depressed.

“Aston Manor Cider is in good shape, is focused on cider and in our view better equipped than any other producer to grow and develop the cider category. We take the view that our marketing investment should add value and avoid the price promotions that depress value to chase volume.

“The slight dip in our UK sales is better than the experience for the total market, though is a reflection of how tough trading has been – not helped by a poor summer in 2015.”

Aston Manor’s brands include Kingstone Press, which sponsors Rugby League, value cider Frosty Jacks and premium brand Malvern. The investment programme has included the development of the £7m fruit pressing and processing mill in Stourport-on-Severn and regular upgrades across all its sites.

“Whilst the cider industry will remain very challenging, we anticipate that we will outperform the market again,” Johncox added. “We’re pleased with how we have improved the mix of business we do and that we are able to invest to support the future success we expect to see at home and abroad.”