Investments in machinery at Greencroft Bottling Company are set to see the firm grow by 35% this year, topping up a successful period which has already seen sales grow to £32m.
Established in 2003, the firm has grown to be one of the largest wine bottlers in Europe, operating five lines at its factory in Consett, County Durham.
Latest accounts show the firm – one of only two from the North East to make it onto the inaugural Investec Mid-Market 100 list of the UK’s fastest-growing private companies – increased turnover by 44% from £22.26m to £32.07m in the year ended June 30 2014
Operating profit, meanwhile, almost doubled from £1.824m to £3.628m, while pre-tax profit also increased from £1.7m to £3.5m.
The firm forms part of the Lanchester Group which made up of five companies; Lanchester Wine Cellars, Lanchester Properties, Greencroft Bottling Company Ltd, Lanchester Sales and Lanchester Energy.
Originally set up by Mr Cleary and his wife Veronica in 1980, the group has won plaudits from major UK retailers, introduced innovative green energy solutions and employs hundreds of people in County Durham. Headcount at Greencroft itself increased from 126 to 143.
Since it was launched, Greencroft has also become the first UK wine supplier to be awarded a coveted ‘Blue’ after a two-day audit by a major supermarket for the quality of production facilities, and group managing director Tony Cleary is gearing for more growth this year at the company, which operates 24 hours a day to meet demand.
He said: “We’ve got two big fillers going in which will really up our capacity, and employment has gone up quite a bit too – it’s all good news really and there is a lot happening.”
The company strategic report by Veronica Cleary details how the firm is continuing to attract major brands, and how current equipment is fully utilised, operating a 24-hour, 5/6 day week, carrying out maintenance at the weekend.
“The business has been extremely busy all year round, with such levels of activity expected to continue into 2015,” said Mrs Cleary.
“The company is the most modern bottling plant in Europe, resulting from significant investment in the latest technology gas management machines, as well as a strong technically competent management team and workforce and their ongoing commitment to quality.
“Greencroft Bottling Company continues its upward journey and is expected to grow by a further 35% in the 2015 financial year with investment in two new state-of-the-art fillers, both capable of processing 15,000 bottles per hour each, raising capacity to well over three million litres per week.
“Two new labelling machines and a packing machine are to be ordered, as well as exploring the possibility of acquiring a state-of-the-art fully automated inspection system.”
Meanwhile, the firm’s mission to transform the site into potentially the greenest bottling plant in Europe, as the world’s first carbon-negative drinks business, is gathering momentum and three planned wind turbines are now in operation, meaning “Bottled by sustainable wind power” can be printed on the back of the firm’s bottles.
Mrs Cleary added: “This gives the company a huge market advantage as sustainable and green business become more and more important.”