£10m investment at cider factory has doubled output
A Devon cider factory has more than doubled its output as the result of a £10 million investment from a Midlands-based firm – with an injection of around £2 million still to come.
The former Devon Cider Company was bought out of administration by Birmingham-based Aston Manor three years ago.
The company manufactures own-label brews for the likes of Tesco and Aldi at the site, in Tiverton, as well as running a factory in Birmingham, which makes branded products such as Crumpton Oaks, Golden Valley and Frosty Jacks.
The Devon factory has the firm's only canning production line while its Midlands base runs its only bottling line. Apple juice is produced from the company's own orchards in Worcestershire.
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Since the Mid Devon factory was acquired by the Ellis family – headed by former Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis – it has increased its production from a peak of around 1 million litres a week to around 2.25 million litres a week today. Staff numbers have also risen from 40 before the acquisition to 85 today with plans for a team of up to 100 in the next 12 months.
Aston Manor managing director Peter Ellis said: "What we have achieved has been better than we might have hoped – which gives us the confidence to invest further and make an excellent operation even better.
"But then with the growth we have enjoyed in the business it has been vital that the team at Tiverton have delivered the transformation they have so that we can support our customers in the way that we have."
Total sales for Aston Manor were £79 million in 2010, £106 million in 2011 with the Tiverton site helping to drive further growth expected this year.
Mr Ellis added: "What particularly excites me about performance at the Tiverton site is that on every measure – not just volumes produced – we are delivering great results with more to come."
Forthcoming investment includes around £500,000 which will be spent on a new effluent treatment works with work due to start next week on a 7,200sq ft new warehouse that will cost around £200,000.
The warehouse will give the firm more flexibility as well as a 20% increase in its storage space in response to requests from supermarkets who vary order volumes, often at short notice.
Aston Manor is now the largest independent cider maker in the UK and the second largest producer by volume.
Many of the Westcountry's artisan cider makers are concerned that government proposals for a minimum price of 45p per unit for alcohol could affect their businesses.
Mr Clifford said it would also impact on larger producers. "We're making plans ourselves to work out how we could handle it. It could potentially have a big impact," he added.