The decision to keep Somerset ciders being produced in Shepton Mallet with the news that Brothers Drinks will manufacture key brands was welcomed by Unite, the country’s largest union, today (Wednesday 19 October).
In January, Irish drinks giant C&C said that it would close The Shepton Mallet Cider Mill by the end of the summer threatening to end a cider-making tradition in the town stretching back to 1770.
But today the union revealed Brothers Drinks would be taking over the manufacturing and production of such brands as Blackthorn and Olde English lines at the cider mill.
Unite said that C&C would retain the ownership of the brands, the orchards producing the apples and the Kilver Street mill itself.
The takeover by Brothers means that 24 jobs – 18 production staff and six managers – would be retained, but Unite expressed dismay that about 100 local jobs had been lost since January’s announcement.
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 Mallet, but sad that the 120-strong workforce in January has been so diminished.
“The loss of about 100 jobs is something that Somerset can ill-afford to lose, especially with today’s announcement that 221 jobs are set to go at the GKN helicopter site in Yeovil.
“Unite would like to thank the local community for the enormous support that the cider workers have received in the last 10 months – it has definitely played its part in the campaign to keep the cider-making tradition alive in Shepton Mallet.
“Unite wishes to work constructively with Brothers Drinks in the future to make the new enterprise the success it deserves to be.”
In April, it was announced that Brothers Drinks was taking over the bottling line, which cost an estimated £6m and had never been used, just across the road from the main Kilver Street site.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact: Unite regional coordinating officer Steve Preddy on 07764 467443
Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org