Makro deal for Ballymena contract bottler

Contract bottler Norbev in Ballymena has won a contract from Elbar Services, the Derby-based food distributor, to supply a range of drinks to the UK operations of Makro, the leading cash’n’carry chain, in a deal worth around £1.5 million. Elbar is a major supplier of products to Makro depots.

Norbev secured its first contract from Elbar following a meeting organised by Karl Devlin, an Invest Northern Ireland food marketing adviser in Great Britain, who heard about the food distributor’s Makro requirement and set up a visit to the Ballymena business.

The contract for the supply of still and sparkling water under Makro’s established Rioba brand was announced by Damian McCarthy, Norbev’s Commercial Director, and welcomed by Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Food Director.

In addition, Norbev is developing a range of fruit juices for Makro as part of the Elbar agreement. The products will be sold through Makro’s 300-strong UK network of depots. Elbar is also discussing with the Northern Ireland company an opportunity to supply a range of mixers for the European cash’n’carry client.

Mr McCarthy described the Elbar contract as “very significant business” for the company which has been in the bottling since 1919 and now operates from a state-of-the-art plant, opened in April 2004, in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

Mr McCarthy said: “We greatly appreciate Invest NI’s introduction to Elbar Services and the opportunity it provided to bid for the contract to develop a wide range of new products for a client as prestigious as Makro.  It’s a tremendous endorsement of our experience in contract bottling for major clients and also of the high quality of services that we provide across the UK.

“Our strategic focus is on building close partnerships with clients that enables us to provide products that meet their individual requirements.

“Extensive capital investment in plant and equipment enables us to produce around 100 million bottles of water, minerals and juices annually. We now have one of the most modern bottling operations in the UK and our vast experience in logistics means we can provide the consistently high quality that clients require. We can distribute these efficiently throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland,” he added.

Mr Mawhinney said: “This is a tremendous boost for Norbev and an indication of the excellence of their services and overall professionalism they provide from their immensely impressive operation in Ballymena.

“The contract is also a further example of the excellent work of our team of marketing advisers in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Their role is to help our companies, both large and small, to grow business outside Northern Ireland by identifying leads, making important contacts and brokering meetings for food and drink producers with potential customers.

“Over the past two years, we’ve arranged ‘meet the buyer’ events with virtually all the leading retailers in the British Isles and top organisations in food services and catering including Elbar Services, part of the huge Elbar Worldwide operation,” he added.

Norbev already contract bottles a wide range of products for clients such as Coca-Cola, Vimto, Britvic and GSK.