Former Aspall cyder chairman tells the story of one of Suffolk’s most well-loved brands
- Credit: Archant
The former chairman of one of Suffolk’s best known brands, Aspall Cyder, revealed the reason why he decided to sell the company that had been in his family since 1728.
On Thursday Barry Chevallier Guild, former chairman of Aspall Cyder, told Suffolk Business Club guests at Milsoms Kesgrave Hall the story of his family’s brand, which is still produced at the same production plant near Debenham where Chevalliers first started brewing cider almost 300 years ago.
He revealed the Chevallier family’s other claims to fame, aside from their producing world-renowned cider: One Chevallier was a professor of astronomy at Durham who has a crater on the moon named after him, and another distant ancestor was Lord Kitchener, a senior British Army officer and colonial administrator who won notoriety for his imperial campaigns during the Boer war and the Great War.
Mr Chevallier Guild also explained that the reason that his family used ‘cyder’ in the spelling of their cider brand is a nod to the company’s founder, Clement Chevallier, who used the old-fashioned spelling in his record-keeping books.
The Chevalier family have left a lasting legacy with their brand, as Lady Jennifers cider and Perronelle’s Blush Suffolk cyder are both named after late female members of the family.
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Earlier this year, Aspall Cyder was bought by the American brewing giant Molson Coors. Mr Chevallier Guild said the rationale for the sale was the need for more investment to fuel growth. But that explained that he and his brother Henry had only agreed to the sale on the condition that Aspall cyder would continue to be produced in Suffolk, and that no jobs would be cut. “I didn’t want to sell Aspall to a faceless hedge fund,” he explained. “I got to know the people at Molson Coors first and I discovered that they shared our values.”
Molson Coors has stayed true to its word, and has also pledged a £10m boost to the cider plant.
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Mr Chevallier now acts as a brand ambassador for the company. While Brexit is not a primary concern - “We are looking at boosting our trade in America and Latin America much more than in Europe” - he also admitted that growing the business in China had been a difficult task. “Business is done there through hauliers rather than supermarkets, and it was not easy to get established,” he said.