The latest financial results published this month by Aston Manor Cider report increased profitability, turnover and production volumes enabling very positive progress against its sustainability agenda.
Before exceptional costs, profits for 2018 increased by 1.4% (on an EBITDA basis) on a turnover up 5% to over £133m.
With the ambition to be the ‘most capable, progressive and professional cider company’ the business has a range of challenging objectives to achieve this goal and deliver greater sustainability on three fronts.
By being more financially sustainable the business continues to support significant employment and invests in the partnerships it has with customers, suppliers and others.
Addressing the need for improved environmental performance, Aston Manor is a leading example of what can be achieved through commitment and investment.
As a founding co-signatory of the UK Plastics Pact, the business was the first alcohol producer involved in this important initiative and has already delivered a major contribution by switching 51% of PET packaging to be from recycled content. Ongoing work will see this industry leading performance improved further.
Tackling the need to be socially sustainable and supporting the development of effective approaches to reduce alcohol misuse is an equally important objective for Aston Manor.
The business is supporting the Alcohol Education Trust in their work with young adults to ensure they have an informed and responsible relationship with alcohol, whether they choose to drink or not.
Commenting on the progress being made, chief executive Gordon Johncox said: “In a market and a business environment that continues to be challenging, the clarity around our ambition to be a capable, progressive and professional business is being delivered by the commitment and great work of our people.
“Whilst we expect the future to offer up further challenges to contend with, continuing to invest in our capability and being determined in our focus on what is important to us should mean we are well-placed to build on the progress we are making.”
The business invested £3.4m in 2018 to improve production capability and deliver on sustainability objectives. A further £3.5m is earmarked for 2019 to drive further improvement.
The commitment to excellence in all operations means that Aston Manor retained the highest levels of accreditation possible across all its sites. The portfolio of cider brands was also recognised with 11 international product awards. This success is being repeated in 2019.
Given the insight and market understanding in the business, supported by investment in independent market data, Aston Manor is keen to work with regulators, the Government and others to tackle alcohol misuse.
Gordon Johncox said: “Whilst progress on the responsibility agenda is pleasing to see with, for example, less binge drinking and under-age consumption continuing to decline there is more to do.
“What we are very keen to see is that the policy approaches are effective and proportionate. For example, Minimum Unit Pricing has been introduced in Scotland and whilst we applaud the ambition to be bold in tackling the misuse of a minority, our detailed analysis of the work that supports this policy is that it is flawed.
“The experience in Scotland is that the drinks market is being very significantly distorted by product substitution, typically to higher strength products. The negative impact on own and exclusive label products indicates that the policy is impacting those households that can least afford it. There are significant questions as to whether the policy is yet achieving the objectives that were forecast would be delivered.”
The strategy of investing to increase capability and capacity has been a feature of Aston Manor for a number of years. Between 2013 and 2018 over £30m was invested across the sites in Aston (Birmingham), Stourport-on-Severn, Tiverton and Witton (Birmingham). Having been acquired by Agrial S.A. in August 2018, that strategic approach continues.
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