Minister announces contracts worth £30million at Norbev

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has announced new contracts worth more than £30million, won by Norbev in Ballymena.

The Minister announced the new business for Norbev, which includes a substantial contract from Aldi, the leading German-owned discount store group, during a visit to the company’s plant in Railway Street. Norbev, an Invest Northern Ireland client company, is a specialist in contract bottling for soft drinks and is celebrating the 90th anniversary of its establishment this year.

Announcing Norbev’s success, mostly in markets outside Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster said: “The new contracts are the result of an aggressive and highly professional drive by the company, which has been in business in Ballymena since 1919.

“The contracts will enable Norbev to consolidate its market position as a leading supplier of contract bottling services to many of the key producers of soft drinks in Europe. The company, which began business selling lemonade door-to-door by horse and cart, is demonstrating that it has the capacity and capability to compete successfully in external and export markets.

“Today Norbev, one of the most advanced contract bottling operations in the UK and Republic of Ireland, produces more than 100 million bottles of soft drink annually for household names such as Britvic, Coca-Cola, Vimto and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

The Minister highlighted the company’s success as being particularly encouraging, as the global economy continues to face economic challenges.

She said: “Norbev is also an excellent example of a company which has surmounted the challenges of the credit crunch and is now experiencing strong growth in highly competitive markets.

“It has taken measures to tighten control over costs and productivity including strengthening its management team. This ambitious company has also stepped up its sales and marketing activities, particularly in markets outside Northern Ireland. These included participation in a range of Invest NI food and trade marketing programmes.”

David Halliday, Norbev’s Managing Director, commenting on the new business won by the company, said: “The contracts are bottling a range of drinks including some new juice and mineral products over the next three years.

“As well as enabling us to strengthen our partnerships with major developers of soft drinks, the contracts are an important endorsement of our technical capability and strong customer focus that underpins our overall business approach. We set out to show potential customers in particular whom we had targeted, that we offered quality bottling services that were also very competitive. This means an extensive and structured marketing campaign in the UK and other parts of Europe.

“Invest NI was very supportive and helped us to reach the right buyers in major soft drinks companies such as Elbar Services, a leading supplier to Makro. Invest NI’s Food Marketing Advisers, for example, played a key role in bringing potential customers to our bottling plant in Ballymena.

“We followed up the contacts with samples and quotes as required. Our strategic focus is on building the closest possible partnerships with customers to enable us to respond quickly and flexibly to their individual requirements.

“The new business will also enable us to implement programmes that we have developed to strengthen our competitiveness.”

Norbev currently employs around 60 people.