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Helen Thomas elected chair of NACM

The managing director of Westons Cider, Helen Thomas, has been elected chair of the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) the governing body of the UK's cider and perry industry. Thomas will hold the position for two years.

This is the second time Helen has held the position of chair, having previously been chair in 2007. Westons Cider was established by Helen’s great grandfather in 1880 and she is the forth generation of the family to run the business.

Thomas says: “It is a great privilege to be appointed chair of the NACM once again, and I am really looking forward to continuing to support the industry, championing growth and tackling the issues that the cider industry faces today.

“I hope to bring to the role my experience of growing Westons into the company it now is, employing 230 people and producing a wide range of premium ciders which represent the breadth of the category.

“The cider industry has changed and developed dramatically since I was last chair in 2007. The industry had committed to initiatives to support and encourage market growth and the mood then was full of hope for the future as cider makers from across the UK presented brands of long-standing alongside many new innovations.

“Between 2007 and 2009 the cider market continued to grow. We developed better training programmes, invested in apprenticeships and continued to innovate. We planted new orchards and expanded our mills to accommodate the increased crop. We continued our industry ethos of a British industry supporting the British rural economy.

“However, in 2009 the duty escalator was introduced, which created a very challenging trading environment for cider producers. Excise duty has now increased by more than 16% and we therefore need support from the Government to turn this situation around.

“There are sub-sectors of the cider market which are in strong growth, such as traditional premium, super premium and craft cider. We will therefore be working hard to champion these sub-sectors to help bring long-term growth back to the category. Cider is now a familiar and important part of consumers’ drinking repertoires, with almost half of UK consumers now drinking cider regularly, consuming over 1.4bn pints a year, however we need to introduce even more people to this exciting and vibrant category.”

Fenella Tyler, chief executive for the NACM, says: “We are delighted to welcome Helen as chair of the NACM once again, and I am looking forward to working with her over the next two years. Helen brings with her a vast amount of experience of living and working within the cider industry and her family has a great tradition of cider making. This makes Helen extremely well-equipped to deal with the challenges we are facing to help us bring long-term growth to the category."

24 October 2016 - Sam Coyne The Drinks Report, editorial assistant