Ireland’s oldest water bottling company has invested significantly in its manufacturing facilities to more than double output capacity of its premium quality mineral water products.
With funding facilities provided by Ulster Bank and Lombard, the asset finance specialists, the Classic Mineral Water Company has completed a multi-million-pound investment in the purchase and commissioning of two new cutting-edge automated production lines.
When fully operational, the new lines will enable the Lurgan-based company to boost production capacity from 8,000 units per hour to a maximum 20,000 units per hour.
As well as boosting production, the new equipment will enable an almost 30 per cent reduction in PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) per bottle.
Bottled at source, the company has five on-site wells commissioned which can supply its production lines with up to 100,000 litres per hour.
The investment comes as the soft drinks manufacturer seeks to build upon its existing customer relationships. It plans to return a five-fold increase in sales by expanding its presence in Ireland and entering the Great Britain market over the next 3-4 years.
In September the company launched its new five-litre product to the market and now supplies this to both Aldi and Tesco stores in RoI.
Caroline McKeown, Senior Relationship Manager, Commercial Banking NI at Ulster Bank, said the company is entering a period of transformative change.
“The investment will enable the company’s new management team to propel what is a traditional business into the 21st century through the integration of high-capacity automated production facilities. As one of Northern Ireland’s standout FMCG producers, a sector Ulster Bank is committed to resourcing, we are pleased to provide finance to The Classic Mineral Water Company to put in place the facilities that will equip the company with the means to expand its presence throughout the UK and Ireland.”
Declan Napier, Relationship Director at Lombard, said: “Investing in the latest equipment is key to maximising the operational efficiency of the business and realising its growth potential.
“Our support has enabled the company to acquire new, innovative production lines that will secure the future of the company by boosting revenue and profitability.”
“We have an excellent, quality-driven proposition compared to other competitors in the marketplace,” explained Liam Duffy, CEO and owner at The Classical Mineral Water Company.
“As the only company in Northern Ireland with certified natural mineral water status we are well positioned to capitalise on opportunities in the soft drinks and beverage sector with a locally-sourced and premium product.”
The 70-year-old company is one of only three in Ireland, and the only firm in Northern Ireland with natural mineral water status. Its water sources can all boast pH levels of between 8 and 8.3, and can therefore be classified as an alkaline water.
Liam added: “The support of Ulster Bank and Lombard has enabled us to revolutionise a historic bottling company by introducing industry-leading technologies.
“These innovations are aiding growth in our current markets and their increased capacity ensures we are future-ready and able to scale our operations in response to heightened demand as we break into new and emerging markets.”
A one-stop shop, it supplies a full range of products and sizes, ranging from 250ml to 5000ml. Its products include still and sparkling water, flavoured water, lemonades, kids ranges and a mixer range.
As well as its retail lines, the company also has its 19-litre water cooler business, with a customer base of over 500, including offices and private customers.
Environmentally responsible, the business utilises 100 per cent recyclable raw materials which are sourced locally to minimise associated carbon footprint. On site, materials and product are transferred using sustainable, all-electric drive equipment.
It supplies both wholesale and retail customers throughout Ireland, including Tesco, Aldi, Dunnes Stores, Musgrave, BWG Group, Henderson Group, Deli Lites and Pallas Foods.