Cider brand Aspall has been bought by Molson Coors for an undisclosed sum.
Molson Coors are a giant of the US beer industry, and also own the Carling and Miller brands.
Heritage company sold
The Aspall brand has, until now, been a real heritage brand for the UK. It has been run by eight generations of the same family, the Chevalliers. Based in Aspall in Suffolk, it has been a steady force in food recruitment for such a long time, supplying jobs to the local community.
Members of the Chevallier family say that, for now at least, that is not going to change. Some will be staying on as part of the company to help ensure that it remains part of the local community, and continues to work with them.
Molson Coors do currently have other bases in the UK and Ireland, so it is hoped that they will not decide to move production. Instead, they will be looking to expand the company’s workforce and increase the customer base for their products – which could mean more food and drink jobs coming up in the area very soon.
A new start
The negotiation apparently took a full year, and Barry Chevallier Guild, the chairman of Aspall, says that it will represent an important milestone for the company.
“Molson Coors is known for respecting the provenance of local brands it has acquired in the past and has the scale and expertise to accelerate our growth in the premium cider category in the UK and beyond,” he said. “There is a real opportunity to elevate and grow the status of English cider in the UK and abroad both as a beverage and as an excellent partner for food. We believe that Molson Coors’s investment will provide the catalyst to grow Aspall and build the recognition for quality cider worldwide.”
Their sales were already increasing, though perhaps not fast enough for Guild’s tastes. Their volume of sales grew by 10% in 2016, which is a great indicator of success. The cider market in itself is also on the up, with its total value rising by 25% between 2010 and 2015.
Phil Whitehead is the Managing Director of Molson Coors UK and Ireland. He says, “The Chevalliers have been producing cider for almost 300-years and their range of brands enhances our existing portfolio. We’re now looking forward to helping Aspall become the number one premium cider in the UK and building on the huge potential of the Aspall vinegars, as part of an ongoing strategy to premiumise our portfolio.”
Changes still moving forward
This is only the latest in a string of changes at Aspall, who have been investing heavily since 2015. There has been a clear attempt to steer the company in the right direction, with Guild saying that it has allowed them to gain more control over the company.
In 2015, Guild gave interviews discussing how Aspall had been hitting targets to do with implementation of new features, such as bottling, kegging, and bag-in-box lines. These successes have no doubt been part of the package that attracted investors, allowing them to see a potential future with the company.
Ongoing investment could clearly only continue for so long – the Chevallier family felt that now was the time to sell, and take on an operational role rather than dealing with the bigger picture. For better or for worse, this definitely seems like a deal that will change the future of Aspall. It could well be the thing that propels them into global success.
For now, we will simply have to wait and see where they go next.