Jobs and sales rise as Sunderland drinks firm enjoys growth

Sunderland City Council's Coun  Mel Speding (left), with Mark Bell, operations director at Clearly Drinks.
Sunderland City Council's Coun Mel Speding (left), with Mark Bell, operations director at Clearly Drinks.
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Clearly Drinks has the bottle for growth.

The Sunderland firm is creating new jobs and driving sales following its latest expansion.

Our first-rate workforce is hugely important to our success.

Mark Bell

The company has seen full-time employee numbers rise to 72 from 60, and the number of bottles produced by the plant grew from 52million bottles in 2015 to 69million bottles in 2016, with a target of 75million by the end of 2017.

It has taken over a 21000 sq ft building next to the factory at Riverside Road Sunderland, for warehousing and future expansion, and drilled a new borehole for its on-site spring, the Hadrian Well, which produces Northumbria Spring.

Clearly Drinks produces the UK’s top selling zero-sugar, naturally-flavoured drink, Perfectly Clear. Other well-known brands are its range of 1870 mixers, Northumbria Spring and Perfectly Clear Kids.

It is now looking to launch new brands, building on its leading position as a producer of zero sugar drinks. Perfectly Clear Whisper was launched in July.

The company rebranded to Clearly Drinks in November after seven years as Contract Bottling – before that it was known as Villa Drinks which operated from the Sunderland site for 36 years.

It is now looking to invest more than £1.5million in new equipment, including a bottle blower to blow pre-forms which will speed up the operation and cut the company’s carbon footprint.

Sunderland City Council’s business investment team is advising and supporting the firm and major shareholders NorthEdge are backing the move.

Operations director Mark Bell said: “This has been one of our busiest years, buying a new building, digging the borehole to futureproof the company, and producing record numbers of bottles for new and existing customers across the UK, Europe and Saudi Arabia.

“Our first-rate workforce is hugely important to our success. It means we produce premium drinks, and can turn round new orders remarkably quickly. We pride ourselves on our flexibility, high standards and always putting the customer first. We value the advice and support we have had from Sunderland City Council.”

City council cabinet secretary Coun Mel Speding said: “Clearly Drinks is a new name for a well-established, respected company. I’m delighted Clearly Drinks’ success has led to more job opportunities and productivity in the city.”