Brothers Drinks buys £6m bottling line amid Shepton Mallet Cider Mill closure

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

Unite trade union protesting against the closure at Westminster
Unite trade union protesting against the closure at Westminster
Brothers Drinks has invested in a £6m bottling line amid Shepton Mallet Cider Mill closure, in Somerset, according to Unite, trade union.

The bottling line, which has never been used, is across the road from the main Kilver Street site where more than 120 jobs remain under threat. 

Urgent need for a buyer for main site

Steve Preddy, regional coordinating officer, Unite, said it still needs a buyer for the main Somerset cider mill. 

“While we are pleased the line has been sold to the makers of Brothers Cider, also based in Shepton Mallet, there is still an urgent need for a buyer for the main site,” he said.​ 

“We are pleased there will be an unspecified number of jobs working on the Brothers line - these are totally new jobs with this company. 

“However, it does not resolve the issue that 127 workers at the profitable Shepton Mallet Cider Mill face being made redundant at the end of the summer.” 

BeverageDaily reported in March Shepton Mallet Cider Mill will close​ in the summer when production, including brands such as Blackthorn and Olde English, ceases and the pulped fruit is transported to Ireland.  

C&C Group financial forecast in May

Since the announcement, Preddy has called for C&C Group, which owns the mill to find a buyer claiming its recent operating profits (for the 12 months to 29 February 2016) to be in the region of £80.35m (€103m) would make the site an attractive investment.  

Ironically, the Shepton Mallet plant is a profitable site and its employees have contributed greatly to the €103m forecast,​” he said at the time. 

Any such sale would be greatly assisted if the company agreed to sell the brands, as well as the site itself.​” 

A spokesman for C&C Group said in a statement it was moving production from Borrisoleigh in Ireland and Shepton Mallet to its plant in Clonmel, Tipperary, because the current situation was not sustainable. 

“We wish Brothers Drinks well in the expansion of its production capability and hope it can employ as many dedicated cider workers as possible in the future,”​  said Preddy.

Brothers Drinks to expand production capabilty

Last week the C&C Group stopped the production of the Somerset ciders Addlestones, Blackthorn, Natch and Olde English. 

C&C Group results for the year will be announced on May 11, 2016. 

The sale to Brothers includes the land and buildings housing the bottling line, which has the capacity to produce a million and a half bottles a day. 

It said it will use the plant to expand production capability for its 'Brothers Cider' brand, and other contract bottling businesses. 

Brothers Drinks said in a statement: "We are very pleased to be acquiring this site and bottling line so close to where our family began their business 173 years ago. We are a growing company and a local business and we look forward to maximising this opportunity​."

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