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Business & Economy

Clearly Drinks savours sweet taste of success as £6 million investment aids growth

A soft drinks maker says sales are about to fizz after investing £6 million in a new canning line.

Clearly Drinks expects revenues to double this year after tripling capacity to 160 million litres.

Led by chief executive Mick Howard, the investment is the largest in the Sunderland company’s 135-year history.

Mick said: “To make such an investment during a pandemic was a brave and courageous decision; however, it is one that has really paid off.

“Not only has it helped us bring new products to market, but it has also seen our headcount exceed 100 employees and made the business much more agile.”

As well as investing in its canning line, the company – which was founded in 1885 and originally started life as Fenwick & Sons before rebranding to Villa Drinks – has also bought a pasteurisation unit and nitrogen dosing system.

Bosses say the outlay has led to the creation of ten jobs and helped the firm land its largest contract to date with a national wholesaler.

The total investment, worth more than £6.5 million, was supported by the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project, which provided technical support to integrate the technology, as well as a £50,000 grant towards the pasteurisation unit.

Mick said: “The support from SAM was fantastic.

“The process was super-simple and allowed us to not only tap into funding to help de-risk our investment, but also receive technical expertise to ensure we maximise the potential of the new equipment and technology.”

SAM is a £10.9 million collaboration between the European Regional Development Fund, the University of Sunderland, the Northern Powerhouse initiative and industry.

Roger O’Brien, SAM project and technical lead, added: “The investment in the new canning line and pasteurisation unit will not only help make the business more sustainable, but it will also allow it to realise its potential and continue growing its presence across the globe.”

  • Pictured, above, from left to right, are Clearly Drinks’ Tracy Mallam and the SAM Project’s Dionne Clark