Cider

Shepton Mallet cider mill saved after buyout

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

Site saved: Brothers is taking over the Shepton Mallet plant
Site saved: Brothers is taking over the Shepton Mallet plant
A Somerset cider mill that was earmarked for closure will remain open, it has emerged.

Irish drinks giant C&C announced in January that it would shut the Shepton Mallet site by the summer.

But Brothers Drinks, which bought a bottling line housed in one of the external buildings close to the main site earlier this year, is now buying the entire plant.

Under the plans, the business would continue to produce its own Brothers Cider, as well as expand its contract packing business, Matthew Showering, Brothers Drinks joint managing director, told The Morning Advertiser​.

Jobs saved

The move, which has saved the jobs of 18 production staff and six managers, would also see the business expand the range of cider produced at the facility next year.

“We have some contracts with C&C Group and we’re going to be looking to expand the business into more cider for both the on-trade and off-trade,” Showering explained. “The plan is to take on more [brands]. You could make a quarter of the country’s cider at that place, it’s huge. We want to make a lot more use out of it.”

The plant was originally owned by Showering’s family from the 1840s to the 1960s.
“We are excited therefore to be bringing it back into the company and we are looking forward to making cider here and, over time, taking full advantage of this great site,” he added.

Under the plans, Blackthorn and Olde English cider brands will be among those produced at the mill.

'Finding a trade buyer'

Billy Mason, C&C Group, said: “We are pleased that we have completed the sale to a local and well-known cider company that maintains the history of the site and will provide opportunity for some of our employees to stay on under the Brothers team.

"Finding a trade buyer was always our ideal outcome so it feels good to have completed this transaction and we will now focus on a smooth handover.”

Union Unite welcomed the news but expressed dismay that 100 local jobs had been lost since January’s announcement.

“We are delighted by the news that Brothers Drinks is continuing the 246-year cider-making tradition in Shepton Mallet, but sad that the 120-strong workforce in January has been so diminished,” the union’s regional co-ordinating officer Steve Preddy.

​Unite wishes to work constructively with Brothers Drinks in the future to make the new enterprise the success it deserves to be.”  

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