Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Soft drinks firm Maine has thirst for growth with new range

Jonathan Harkness from the Maine Mineral Water Company and Peter McArdle of Invest NI announce the expansion drive
Jonathan Harkness from the Maine Mineral Water Company and Peter McArdle of Invest NI announce the expansion drive

'The Maine Man' will be selling his much-loved 'minerals' to homes in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland thanks to a new expansion.

A Northern Ireland institution, thanks to years of home delivery in recyclable glass bottles of unique flavours such as Sarsparilla, Scottish Kola and Portemo, the Maine Mineral Water Company in Ballymoney is a fourth generation family business and employs more than 100 people.

Founded in 1919, the company began processing at Ballymoney in 1959 and currently supplies soft drinks to around 40,000 homes across Northern Ireland every week.

In 1995, Maine acquired Braid Soft Drinks and later, Great Northern and Yacht Soft Drinks.

The company is now launching a new range of products to grow sales outside Northern Ireland and plans to make its flavours available in 500ml snack-sized bottles.

Jonathan Harkness of Maine Mineral Water said that launching the minerals in a new one-litre plastic bottle is an immensely important investment for the business.

"We already have sales in parts of Britain and the Republic and are keen to expand business in both markets.

"The launch of the new plastic bottle range will make this a great deal easier than is currently possible using glass bottles.

"However, home delivery is still a huge part of our business, around 60%, and we are committed to the home delivery side of the business and our loyal customers.

"Glass bottles and the sustainable element of our business are still very important for us.

"We are the only company doing home deliveries since we took over the Braid company and we also supply to home delivery companies in Scotland, the north of England and the Midlands.

"Our most popular flavours would be Pineapple and Cloudy Lime but the unusual flavours like Sarsparilla still have lots of fans.

"We love the idea of these flavours winning new fans in Great Britain and the Republic.

"The food and drink sector is a good place to be right now but the market is really competitive.

"The fact that we are so well-known and already have a following with ex-pats living away will stand us in good stead."

Peter McArdle, Invest NI's acting director of food and tourism, added that Maine is among the best-known names in Northern Ireland thanks to home deliveries.

"While it continues to provide this popular service across Northern Ireland, the company has recognised that most soft drinks are now sold through supermarkets and other retailers and is seeking to grow its business by repackaging the range in plastic bottles," he said. "Our support is enabling the company to repackage its products for retailers, both here and outside Northern Ireland, and to use the expertise available through our Design Development Programme to create the type of contemporary identity that these businesses and their customers now expect."

40,000

company currently supplies this number of homes in the province

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