Westons aims to double in size

Westons Cider has laid out ambitious plans to double sales within eight years after its off-trade business grew 10% over the past 12 months.

Henry Westons Vintage Reserve led the charge, growing 15.4% (IRI MAT to September 9), while the recently rebranded Old Rosie has “performed well since the relaunch”.

The Herefordshire producer performed even better in the on-trade, growing 22%, bringing total turnover to £42 million.

Ian Lewis, head of sales and marketing, said: “The market for traditional ciders is growing. Our business planted another 1,000 acres of orchards in the past year – we have gone from 3,000 to 4,000.

“Our long-term ambition is to double the size of our business in the next seven or eight years. We are investing heavily to make it happen.

“We have initiated a multimillion pound investment programme in capi- tal equipment and an 18% increase in headcount to 200 staff.”

Westons increased its marketing spend by a third this year, sponsoring the England cricket team and the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

It now exports to more than 40 countries and aims to capitalise on a cider boom in Australia after snapping up drinks distributor World Brands Australia – its first foreign acquisition.

Commercial director Roger Jackson said: “The purchase of World Brands Australia will ensure Westons has a strong and sustainable platform to invest fully in the fast-growing Australian cider market.”

In the UK, Lewis said Westons’ crop was not hit by poor weather.

"On the back of what has been a really difficult year for the marketplace, we are ahead of the previous year,” he said.

“With the Olympics, Jubilee and football we budgeted for a very strong year. The UK weather has put a dampener on things but we are doing well.

“We are on a natural hill and we sit between two sets of mountains so we aren’t too waterlogged.

“The apple quality has been OK – not great – but we have one of the only master cidermakers left in the industry.”

That man, Jonathan Blair, added: “Quality ciders are our main area of expertise. I will be looking to grow the quality of our cider more than anything over the next year.

“Bulmers and Strongbow are good ciders but they are not for our drinkers. We are targeting people who don’t mind paying a bit more for something twice as good.”

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