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Cider-maker's sales results are so rosy

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: December 04, 2012

By David Shepherd

Peter Ellis says Aston Manor has doubled its production and workforce since taking on Devon Cider Company. Photo: Marcus Thompson

Peter Ellis says Aston Manor has doubled its production and workforce since taking on Devon Cider Company. Photo: Marcus Thompson

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A CIDER company in Tiverton is now producing four million pints every week following a £10m investment programme.

Aston Manor, which makes Frosty Jacks, Malvern Gold and other well-known brands, has almost doubled its output since taking over the factory at Howden Industrial Estate in 2009.

The company has also increased its workforce from 35 to more than 80 and new roles are also expected to be created as the business develops.

Managing director Peter Ellis said: "What we have achieved has been better than we might have hoped for which gives us the confidence to invest further and make an excellent operation even better.

"But 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 £79m in 2010, £106m in 2011 and the business will post further growth in 2012.

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.

"So, for example, we are able to sustain more employment for local people, improve the environmental impact of the plant and give ourselves the tools to exploit the opportunities to grow our business – where particularly in export markets and with premium ciders we are well-placed."

The Tiverton plant is now a major component in the Aston Manor operation. The apple juice produced from the company's own orchards in Worcestershire is blended with other juice to produce a range of different ciders for different markets at home and overseas.

Aston Manor is now the largest independent cider-maker in the UK and the second largest producer by volume. The success of the business is attributed to the breadth of portfolio of ciders made and the flexibility of operations.

Mr Ellis, brother of former Aston Villa Football Club chairman, Doug, added: "If we see an opportunity, we are quick to evaluate its potential and then move to make it happen – if that means significant investment in Devon, then we will do that."

Paul Clifford, who leads the Tiverton plant and has overseen investment over the last three years, said the staff had "responded fantastically" in order to achieve growth so far.

He said: "We will need more of the same as we look to invest further in things like warehousing capacity, and replacing kit with cleaner, quieter and more efficient technologies.

"We are very mindful that as well as supporting the business we need to be a good employer, a good neighbour and play our part in the community where we are based.

"There will always be more to do on this.

"However, we are proud of our record on these issues and will look to work even closer with our neighbours and stakeholders."

Aston Manor bought the factory from receivers for Devon Cider Company.

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