Contract Bottling in Sunderland announces plans for further expansion

After growing turnover, staff numbers and production, Sunderland firm invests in attracting new high profile customers

Martin Thornton, MD of Contract Bottling, left, with Cllr Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council
Martin Thornton, MD of Contract Bottling, left, with Cllr Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council

A Sunderland-based drinks and bottling company that has doubled employee headcount and more than tripled production in the last two years is set to expand further after investing more than £2m in equipment.

Contract Bottling Ltd has seen full-time staff numbers rise from 30 to 60 in the past 24 months, while the number of bottles produced by the plant has risen from 15m to 52m. During the same period, the company’s turnover went from £6m to more than £10.6m.

Contract Bottling makes, fills and bottles a wide range of flavoured and natural spring waters, as well as soft drinks, for its customers, which include national supermarket chains and cash and carry operators.

It also produces over 4,000 pallets of cordial, which are shipped out to Saudi Arabia each year in glass bottles as a premium product.

The business is one of a small number of UK bottling companies to have its own on-site spring, the Hadrian Well, the water from which is used in products like Perfectly Clear, Northumbria Spring, Fruit Squeeze and 1870 Mixers.

Among the recently purchased equipment is a £1m machine that blows 24,000 bottles-an-hour to one of its three production lines - something that has transformed capacity and efficiency at the plant, leading to plans to increase volumes and win major new customers in 2015.

The company also invested £50,000 on staff training in 2014 and now intends to begin recruiting apprentices.

Having likewise invested in a 42,000 sq ft warehouse at Sunderland’s Sunrise Enterprise Park to save time and costs on logistics and warehousing, Contract Bottling is now looking to expand its plant at Riverside Road.

The extension, it says, will meet demand from its growing number of UK and overseas customers.

Operations director Mark Bell said: “This has been a great year for our company. We’ve introduced a new production line, welcomed new staff and created record sales of our drinks.

“Our success is due to flexibility, high standards and always putting the customer first. We can turn round new orders remarkably quickly and customers know that using a company that has BRC grade A, the best grade of quality standards, guarantees delicious drinks and fabulous brands that help customers’ sales. “

Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, Cllr Harry Trueman, said: “It’s great news that a Sunderland-based company is leading the UK, and thriving from its base in the city.

“Contract Bottling Ltd should be congratulated for the commitment and passion of its staff which have won it loyal customers and unprecedented soft drinks sales this year.

“It’s even better news that the company is aiming to expand, to create more job opportunities and productivity in the city.”

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