Fentimans to set up EU factory if UK trade deal fails

Fentimans would set up a manufacturing plant in continental Europe to avoid any tariffed trade barriers (Flickr/Cheeseslave)

Soft drinks maker Fentimans will set up a European manufacturing plant if the UK failed to negotiate a tariff-free trade deal with the EU, after Brexit.

The falling value of the pound meant import costs were increasing, which might force overseas expansion, the firm’s owner Eldon Robson said. Robson was open to the idea of moving into continental Europe to get around any trade barriers between the UK and EU countries.

“If it did come to the point where tariffs are introduced, then we would set up some kind of manufacturing in Europe and that is how we would service the European marketplace,” Robson told the Press Association.

“We are used to outsourcing our manufacturing. We set up an operation in Pennsylvania, where we sent our flavour recipes and they source the core ingredients and labels.”

‘Planning to export to 15 new countries’

Fentimans – maker of botanically brewed drinks – currently exports to 65 countries. It is planning to export to 15 new countries within five years.

Brexiter Robson said the UK’s decision to leave the EU provided opportunities for Fentimans. Challenges were normal in business, but it was important to tackle Brexit with a positive frame of mind, he said.

The soft drinks firm was in a very strong financial position, Robson said. There was a very solid future for Fentimans, he added.

A very strong future for Fentimans

Fentimans was founded in 1905 by Robson’s great-grandfather Thomas Fentiman (see video below). Fentiman was approached by a tradesman for a loan, and gave him the recipe for botanically brewed ginger beer for security. When the loan wasn’t repayed, Fentiman began producing the ginger beer.

The Northumberland-based manufacturer now produces 10 brands of soft drink – including its traditional ginger beer, rose lemonade, curiosity cola and dandelion & burdock. It also produces two brands of craft beer, and two brands of pre-mixed gin drinks.

Meanwhile, Fentimans featured in The Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100 list – a ranking of the UK’s top 100 small and medium sized enterprises in exporting.

Fentimans was ranked 30th, with a two-year average international sales growth of 80.21%. International sales accounted for more than 30% of its total sales.

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