After 290 years of independently owned manufacturing Aspall, a manufacturer of cider and other apple derived products has been sold to US beer giant Molson Coors. The brewer, which accounts for about 20% of the UK beer market, with Carling the country's top-selling beer, said it wanted to invest in Aspall’s Suffolk operation and to make Aspall the UK's top-selling premium cider and build on the potential of its vinegars.
Currently Strongbow, a cider brand owned by Heineken, is market leader in the UK with a share of 28 per cent.
The acquisition will strengthen Molson Coors’ position in the fast-growing market for premium cider in the UK, said the brewer in a press statement. The UK is the world's biggest market for cider, accounting for 45% of sales. The total UK cider market value grew by over 25% between 2010 and 2015 and is projected to continue that growth through until 2020 according to data from Nielsen. Volume of cyder sales at Aspall grew by 10% in 2016.
Another important part of the business is the manufacture of specialty vinegars. Aspell is one of the leading producers in this market producing inter alia Aspall Organic Cyder vinegar, which is made using a fermentation process that is the only one of its kind in the world. The company also imports and markets Spanish Red Wine and White Wine Vinegar, and an Italian Organic Balsamic Vinegar.
Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the deal is thought to value Aspall at about £40m ($55.5m) including debt.
Aspall was founded in 1728 by Clement Chevallier and is run by the eighth generation of his family,
Barry Chevallier Guild, Aspall Chairman, said: “Having been in close discussions with Molson Coors for over a year, we were delighted to find that they share our rich heritage, passion for making quality cyder and vision for the future development of Aspall and its people. Molson Coors is known for respecting the provenance of local brands it has acquired in the past, and has the scale and expertise to accelerate our growth in the premium cider category in the UK and beyond.”
Aspall will operate as part of Molson Coors UK & Ireland, within the Molson Coors European business unit and will continue to press, ferment, keg and bottle at the Cyder House in Aspall, Suffolk. Members of the family will remain part of the business and will play a key role in shaping the strategic direction of Aspall, said Molson Coors in the press statement.