French group swoops for Aston Manor
Aston Manor Cider has been bought by a French farming and food co-operative, which is the country's biggest producer of the drink.
The Agrial Group operates in four sectors: milk, fresh vegetables and fruit, beverages and meat. The price it has paid has not been disclosed.
Award-winning Aston Manor, which was thought to be valued at around £100 million, is based in Birmingham and has an apple pressing plant at Stourport which opened in 2013.
It was established in 1983 and the family-owned firm was the largest independently-owned cider maker in the UK.
Aston Manor has orchards in Worcestershire and Herefordshire and a further production and packaging facility at Tiverton in Devon. It exports a range of ciders to more than 20 countries.
The business was started by Sir Doug Ellis, the former Aston Villa chairman, who was the majority owner.
Agrial, originally based in Normandy, has regularly expanded since its creation to become one of the leading French farming cooperatives and is today present in Europe, Africa and the United States.
The beverage division operates in a number of sectors, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
Agrial is committed to the development and growth of cider both in Europe and other parts of the world and said the coming together of Aston Manor and Agrial provides a hugely exciting opportunity to create a global force in cider.
Gordon Johncox, chief executive of Aston Manor Cider, said: “Aston Manor have been looking at strategic options and for a partner to continue the growth of the company and in doing so to broaden our offering.
“With Agrial we have found this partner, a strong group with a well-developed portfolio of products and a well-developed international platform. The operating philosophy and values of Agrial are closely aligned to our own and the leadership of Aston Manor are delighted with this agreement and the opportunities it brings.”
Marc Roubaud, managing director of the drinks division of Agrial, said: “It was crucial for Agrial to assert our global ambitions in the cider market by gaining a foothold in the world’s largest cider market, close to our heartland and the orchards of our members.
“Aston Manor Cider and Agrial are companies with a similar profile and with shared priorities on both brands and private label and we are excited to combine our strengths to offer all our customers."
James Ellis, chief financial officer at Aston Manor Cider and grandson of Sir Doug, said: “It was extremely important to my family that we found a new owner that mirrors our own values, that will offer strong custodianship of the family business that we have built and nurtured for 35 years.
“This deal, will provide both the company and our staff with continuing opportunities to grow. Agrial is the perfect fit, and we are delighted to build Aston Manor’s future with them.”