A North East family firm which has built on its expertise in tea is set to focus more on the booming demand for coffee.
The Byker-headquartered Rington’s – which topped £50.1m in turnover in its latest accounts – recently announced a £3m expansion of its factory at Balliol Business Park.
And as well as giving the firm additional production capacity for its ever-growing tea business, directors have said it will also enable it to further develop the coffee business, a division which has always been part of the 108-year-old company but is now ripe for expansion.
The multi-million pound expansion, which is part of a £10m reinvestment made by the company over a three-year period, is well under way and work is due for completion by October this year.
More than 100 of Ringtons’ 515-strong workforce are employed at the factory, and around 10 new jobs will be created when the factory is complete.
Colin Smith, managing director of the production division, “We are half way through our £3m expansion at the Ringtons factory at Balliol Park in North Tyneside which will see the building almost double in size.
“The work will not only give additional production and warehouse space for an ever growing tea business, but it will allow for the relocation and development of our coffee roasting and processing facility.
“This move will support recent growth of our coffee business and create a production space capable of significant expansion in this fast growing market.
“Although Ringtons’ prime product is likely to continue to be tea – our factory produces enough tea each week for 60 million cups – we have always had our own roasted coffee and we will now target the wider coffee market where we expect significant volume growth in the years ahead.
“Facilities and office areas for the team at the factory will also be improved through the expansion at Balliol.”
At present, the firm sells several types of coffee bean and ground coffee through its doorstep delivery service, which has 219 vans delivering to customers each day, and via its website.
The business-to-business beverages division, which supplies Ringtons products to hotels, restaurants, garden centres, schools, colleges and universities and a host of other businesses, also sells a range of coffee pods and beans, ground coffee as well as a selection of machines.
Nigel Smith, group chairman, said that while tea will remain Ringtons’ prime focus, the time is now right to capitalise on huge demands for coffee, especially through its business-to-business beverages division.
Opportunities also lie ahead for its packaging business, which currently sees the business package blends of tea for Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.
He said: “We are a tea business but we have always had a roasting coffee plant. And the UK have become hungrier and hungrier for roast and ground coffee – not instant which was dominant – for many years, so we have developed our beverage department.
“We are looking to the UK market and a growing demand from consumers and if we improve our facilities we can do much better – it’s an exciting opportunity for us.
“There is more demand through the beverages demand but we will also look at wider opportunities through retail, the packaging and the private label market.
“This is an opportunity that has been around for a while but the time wasn’t right for us until now.”
Ringtons’ focus on coffee comes weeks after Newcastle-headquartered bakery giant Greggs announced a huge rise in its own sales of its coffee blend, which is now generating £1m revenue each week — accounting for 6% of overall sales.