Aston Manor Cider sold to France's largest producer

French farming cooperative Agrial has purchased Kingstone Press and Frosty Jack’s supplier Aston Manor.

Terms of the buyout have not been disclosed, but the deal is estimated at around £100 million. Agrial is France’s largest cider producer and it now plans 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.”

Agrial is France’s largest cider producer and it also supplies milk, meat, vegetables, fruit and other drinks to trade partners in Europe, Africa and the US.

Marc Roubaud, managing director of the drinks division at 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.”

Aston Manor supplies a number of own-label ciders to the UK trade, along with brands like Friels, Knights, Crumpton Oaks and Golden Valley.

It has been on the expansion trail in recent years in a bid to keep up with increasing demand for its products. It planted 1,000 acres of new orchards, planted more than 350,000 trees, opened a fruit processing and pressing facility in Worcestershire and built a multimillion-pound a logistics facility near the Aston site. The latest extension to the business is a brand new line at the Devon plant that fills 5-litre mini-kegs.

James Ellis, chief financial officer at Aston Manor Cider and a founding family member, 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.”

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