Agrial operates in the fruit, vegetable, meat and beverage divisions in France, with the latter part of its business covering both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. It is also France’s largest cider producer.
Of the sale announced today (31 August), Aston Manor Cider chief executive Gordon Johncox said: “Aston Manor has been looking at strategic options and for a partner to continue the growth of the company and in doing so to broaden our offering.
“With Agrial, we have found this partner, a strong group with a well-developed portfolio of products and a well-developed international platform."
Johncox added: “The operating philosophy and values of Agrial are closely aligned to our own and the leadership of Aston Manor are delighted with this agreement and the opportunities it brings.”
Director of Agrial’s drinks division Marc Roubaud described the acquisition of Aston Manor as “crucial” for the company’s global cider ambitions.
It was necessary to buy the company to gain a heftier foothold in the world’s largest cider market, the UK, which has strong cider growing and producing links to France.
He said: “Aston Manor Cider and Agrial are companies with a similar profile and with shared priorities on both brands and private labels, and we are excited to combine our strengths to offer all our customers.”
Meanwhile, Aston Manor chief financial officer and founding family member James Ellis said: “It was extremely important to my family that we found a new owner that mirrors our own values, that will offer strong custodianship of the family business that we have built and nurtured for 35 years.
“This deal, will provide both the company and our staff with continuing opportunities to grow. Agrial is the perfect fit, and we are delighted to build Aston Manor’s future with them.”
Aston Manor claims to be the UK’s number one independent cider maker and has a portfolio of more than eight brands, including Friels, Kingstone Press and Knights.
The company was founded in 1983 and was the largest independently owned cider maker in the UK, operating factories and orchards in Birmingham, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
In 2013, Aston Manor announced the planting of 1,000 acres of new orchards, equating to 350,000 trees.
Its Tiverton site received £10m in investment over three years, which doubled production capacity and employment.