Angel puts sparkle into Sunderland soft drinks firm

Contract Drinks Finance Director Keith Ward, Rivers Capital Partners Director Jonathan Gold, Ward Hadaway Corporate Finance Partner Imogen Holland and Contract Drinks Managing Director Martin Thornton mark the investment in Contract Drinks.
Contract Drinks Finance Director Keith Ward, Rivers Capital Partners Director Jonathan Gold, Ward Hadaway Corporate Finance Partner Imogen Holland and Contract Drinks Managing Director Martin Thornton mark the investment in Contract Drinks.
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A FAST-growing drinks company has been given added sparkle thanks to a six-figure investment.

Sunderland-based Contract Bottling Ltd has secured money from the North East Angel Fund (Neaf), which will safeguard 41 jobs and allow the firm to extend its order book.

Contract Bottling makes, fills and bottles a range of soft drinks and its products are stocked by supermarket chains and cash and carry operators.

The company, which was bought in a pre-pack administration from Villa Soft Drinks in January 2011, turned over £5.6million last year and is on track to grow that to £8million this year.

Managing director Martin Thornton, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, said the backing from Neaf would make a real difference to the company’s future.

“We are very pleased to receive this investment. We needed funding to grow the business and take advantage of the growth in this sector,” he said.

Neaf is managed by Rivers Capital Partners and part of the £125million Finance for Business North East Fund.

“When we talked to Rivers Capital, they could see what it was we were trying to achieve and they really bought into our vision for the future of the business,” said Martin.

“This investment will allow us to buy more ingredients and keep both of our bottling lines flowing, which will make the business more efficient.

“It’s great news for everyone involved.”

Jonathan Gold, director of Rivers Capital Partners, said: “Contract Bottling Ltd is a medium sized company which is actively trading with good turnover and sales and which was not in a position to access further funding from more traditional sources.

“The NEAF is keen to back businesses which have a proven track record and need further capital to ensure they can continue to expand and benefit the North East.

“One of the aims of the fund is to safeguard jobs in the region and the investment into Contract Bottling will keep a motivated workforce in employment and substantially improve Sunderland’s economy.”

Law firm Ward Hadaway’s Corporate Finance Partner Imogen Holland advised Rivers Capital on the deal.

She said: “We are delighted to have played a part in bringing this investment into Contract Bottling.

“The company has an experienced management team and an ambitious vision for its future.”

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