C&C Group to end production at two plants as it consolidates operations

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Production will cease at the Shepton Mallet site, although C&C will continue to source apples locally. Pic: iStock
Production will cease at the Shepton Mallet site, although C&C will continue to source apples locally. Pic: iStock

Related tags: Cider

C&C Group will move production from its sites in Shepton Mallet (England) and Borrisoleigh (Ireland) to Clonmel in Tipperary. It estimates 180 jobs will be lost.  

The group – whose brands include Magners and Blackthorn - says the decision is the result of an ‘intensely competitive’ trading environment, and the move to consolidate production will improve capacity utilization.

As part of the consolidation plans, the group will invest €10m ($10.8m) in packaging and logistics in Clonmel, creating 80 roles at this site.

Loss of material contracts for private label water

C&C Group counts Ireland, the UK, and the US as its main markets, while exporting to more than 40 other countries. Its cider brands include Magners (sold as Bulmers in Ireland) and Gaymers, while beers include Tennent’s, Caledonia Best, and Clonmel 1650. It also has wine, spirits and non-alcoholic brands, such as Tipperary Mineral Water.

Production and packaging will be transferred from the affected sites on a phased basis to Clonmel. A spokesperson for the company told BeverageDaily the timescale for transferring operations and closing the plants is not being disclosed.  

Unite, which is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union, puts the Shepton Mallet plant closure as ‘late summer’ this year. Blackthorn and Olde English are among the cider brands produced at the site, it added.

The Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow is unaffected by the plans. The fruit milling operation in Shepton Mallet will also continue operations and C&C says it will continue to source apples from local farms in the long term.

Borrisoleigh will also continue to act as a transport hub with logistics and warehousing operations staying in the town.  

“The trading environment in the UK and Ireland has been intensely competitive over recent years. This has led to significant downward pricing pressure and the loss of material contracts for private label water,”​ the company said in a statement.

“Current capacity utilization across the three impacted sites is 34%, constraining C&C Group’s ability to compete over the longer term.

“Under the planned configuration, Clonmel will move to a capacity utilisation level of 75%.”

Somerset site ‘synonymous with historic cider production,’ says trade union

Of the 180 job losses, 127 are in the UK and 54 are in Ireland.

Unite has called the announcement of the Shepton Mallet closure as ‘Dickensian,’ saying workers were only briefed yesterday afternoon (the same day the closure was announced to the public).

It added that the Shepton Mallet plant has been producing cider for more than 240 years, and that the site is “synonymous with historic cider production” ​in the south west of England.

In its statement, C&C Group said: “This has been a difficult decision for the Group and it is sad that the consolidation of production at the Clonmel site is the only viable option to maintain long term competitiveness.”

It added it will provide support, training and alternative employment for employees where possible. 

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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