Queen opens £30M water bottling plant extension

The Queen pressing the button on the new PET bottling line

The Queen has officially opened a £30M extension to the Highland Spring bottling plant in Blackford, Perthshire.

Her Majesty was on hand to start production on a new polyethylene terephthalate (PET) production line. Producing more than 20 bottles a second, it is claimed by the company to be the fastest in the UK.

Upon arriving at the site last Thursday (July 6), the Queen was welcomed by Highland Spring owner, Emirati businessman Mahdi Al Tajir and chief executive Les Montgomery.

The royal was given a tour of the site, including the bottle making and filling process, and shown the new Highland Spring PET bottle.

The bottle comes with a new 3D effect logo, designed to reflect the surrounding “unspoilt” Ochil Hills.

The new factory has been named Ochils 2017, in honour of the company’s 2,000 acre, privately-owned catchment area.

‘One that we are proud to celebrate’

“The Queen’s visit commemorates the opening of our £30M factory extension project, the biggest investment in the history of Highland Spring Group and one that we were proud to celebrate with over half of our 500 staff members on site,” said Highland Spring Group chief executive Les Montgomery.

The new capabilities placed the business in the best possible position to deliver against demand, and drive long-term sustainable growth, Montgomery explained.

“The new, state-of-the-art production line will step-change our production capabilities, enabling us to reach even more consumers with our message of healthy hydration. To have the Queen here to share in this success is an honour,” he added.

Montgomery also confirmed that HSBC would remain its banking partner as investment increased.

Volume sales of plain bottled water are expected to reach in excess of 4.6bn litres by 2021, according to the Zenith International Bottled Water Report 2017.

Montgomery’s media storm

Montgomery was caught up in a media storm earlier this week, after appearing to U-turn on his criticism of the Scottish National Party’s (SNP’s) drive towards a second independence referendum.

In a statement, published on Telegraph.co.uk, he said his original claim that businesses were “fed up” with Nicola Sturgeon’s quest for independence was “not intended to offer an opinion on whether Scotland should or shouldn’t remain a part of the UK”.

This led political commentators to speculate that undue influence had been exerted on Montgomery after he was contacted by the SNP – a claim that he also denied.

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