The City is fast losing faith that HP Bulmer can stage a recovery. The biggest cider producer in the world has discovered to its cost that its market is pretty small and global youth is more easily attracted to the likes of Diageo's Smirnoff Ice.

The share price at one stage this week fell below 100p after the fifth profits warning in just nine months.

Bulmer has called in John Darlington, a director of the Society of Turnaround Professionals, to help sort the business out which, according to one industry insider, is in a "dire" position.

Analysts believe its Strongbow brand would be better off under new ownership, such as Heineken or Carlsberg.

WestLB Panmure describes the company as "virtually rudderless".

The newspaper says it is becoming increasingly difficult to agree with chairman Will Samuel's insistence that "inside this mess is a very fine, fast moving consumer goods company".
Financial Times 19/10/02 page 16
The Times 19/10/02 page 55 (City Diary)