Jobs saved at Somerset cider mill after takeover

Brothers Drinks has taken over manufacturing duties at the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill, saving 24 jobs

Up to 24 jobs have been saved at a cider mill in Somerset, after beverage firm Brothers Drinks stepped in to take over manufacturing and production of the plant to keep it from closing.

Irish drinks giant C&C Group planned to close the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill by the end of the summer, putting 18 production staff and six manager’s jobs at risk.

Brothers Drinks will take over the manufacturing of cider at the site, which produces Blackthorn and Olde English cider brands.

C&C would retain ownership of the brands, as well as the orchards producing the apples and the Kilver Street mill itself.

‘Well known cider company’

Billy Mason, head of commercial operations at C&C Group, said: “We are pleased that we have completed the sale to a local and well known cider company, which 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 and so it feels good to have completed this transaction and we will now focus on a smooth handover.”

Trade union Unite welcomed the decision. But it regretted the loss of what it claimed were 100 jobs at the site since C&C’s decision to close the factory was announced in January this year.

Unite regional coordinating officer Steve Preddy said: “We are delighted by the news that Brothers Drinks are continuing the 246-year cider-making tradition in Shepton Mallett, but sad that the 120-strong workforce in January has been so diminished.

‘Loss of about 100 jobs’

“The loss of about 100 jobs is something that Somerset can ill-afford to lose, especially with today’s announcement [October 19] that 221 jobs are set to go at the GKN helicopter site in Yeovil.”

Preddy thanked the local community for the support given to the cider workers over the past 10 months.

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

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