Aston Manor Stourport

Aston Manor worker sorts apples at the Stourport cider mill

Sales and profits have tumbled at Aston Manor as the cider maker battled a “relentless increase” in costs and withdrew from a number of contracts in “the most difficult trading period in decades”.

Chief executive Gordon Johncox said 2021 was “every bit as difficult, if not more so” than 2020.

The Midlands-headquartered producer makes a range of ciders across price categories from premium down to discount, including Malvern Gold, Crumpton Oaks, Kingstone Press, Friels Vintage Cider and Frosty Jacks. It also works with supermarkets on private label ciders.

Turnover fell almost 10% to £139m in the 12 months to 31 December 2021, down from £154m in 2020. Aston Manor said the decline followed “necessary strategic decisions to withdraw from sub optimal sales agreements”.

The group added the contribution from expanded contract packing operations was “a worthwhile feature of the mix of business secured”.

Materials and energy costs all increased significantly during 2021, while vital resources such as CO2 were unavailable at times throughout the year.

Aston Manor said it acted to secure essential supplies and to mitigate the adverse impacts of global supply problems.

However, net profits tumbled from £1.6m in 2020 to just £400k last year in what the business called “the most difficult trading period in decades”.

“Our response was exceptional and driven by the commitment of our people and sustained investment in our capability over several years, we maintained a focus on continuity of product availability to our customers,” Johncox said.

“Though, we are not immune to supply chain issues and the seemingly relentless increase in input costs with the shortening of notification periods. We have taken steps to mitigate the impact as far as possible, though we have no option to increase our prices and review elements of our product mix.”

Aston Manor also report that investment in enhanced capability and to increase the sustainability of operations has continued into 2022 and would do so in 2023 and beyond.