New Aspall cider owner underlines commitment to Suffolk with multi-million pound upgrade plans
- Credit: Archant
The new owners of iconic cider brand Aspall underlined their commitment to Suffolk as they revealed plans to upgrade its facilities at a cost of £7m to £10m.
The head of brewing giant Molson Coors’ UK operation was in Debenham on Thursday, May 24, to meet with local residents and reassure them of the firm’s commitment to the area.
Molson Coors UK and Ireland managing director Philip Whitehead said he was “thrilled” and “delighted” after the eighth generation of the Aspall dynasty, brothers Henry and Barry Chevallier Guild, agreed to the sale, which went through in January.
The brothers, now brand ambassadors who sit on the board, said it was the firm’s commitment to the brand and to Suffolk, and the way in which the brewing giant had treated Cornish craft brewer Sharp’s, which it acquired in 2011, which convinced them that Molsons Coors was the right suitor.
They felt the firm, employing 100 staff, needed considerable investment to take it to the next stage, and this resulted in a sale deal, thought to be worth around £40m, being concluded following after six months of talks.
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Mr Whitehead said the plan was to increase production by about a third, but by upgrading facilities and keeping within the same footprint at the firm’s plant at Aspall.
Top priorities will be building a new effluent facility, adding a new weighbridge, upgrading to new temperature-controlled fermentation vessels and renovating the packaging and vinegar barn areas.
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The new effluent facility and weighbridge would reduce the current 1250 annual lorry movements considerably, said Mr Whitehead, who stressed that they planned to expand the business responsibly. He added that while the North American-based multinational brewing group, which was at Debenham leisure centre to host an informal meeting with residents to show them its plans, was large, it was family-run and had a good track record in bringing smaller brands into the fold while staying true to their identities.
“I think the truth behind a brand is its story,” he said. “Actually the heart of the brand is in Suffolk.”
“We have created a brand that we believe Suffolk is very proud of,” added Henry. “It’s a quintessentially Suffolk brand.”