Belfast tycoon planning gin and vodka distillery on French estate
Former packaging giant boss Terry Cross has said he will open a new vodka and gin distillery at his grand estate in France.
The former Delta Print & Packaging boss, who sold his west Belfast company to Finnish firm Huhtamaki in 2016 for £80m, is currently developing his £15m Hinch Distillery at his Killaney Estate outside Carryduff.
But he's now revealed that a new gin and vodka distillery could subsequently be built at his Bordeaux vineyard Château de La Ligne.
"I looked at the market for Irish whiskey and also Irish gin," he said. "The market for Irish whiskey is on fire at the moment, led mainly by Jameson and Tullamore Dew."
And a further distillery looks set to follow at his French estate - producing gin and vodka.
"We are going to build a distillery in Bordeaux as well… probably for gin and French vodka. We've established planning," he added.
Mr Cross's current Hinch Distillery is an ambitious £15m project, already well under way, which will see a whiskey and gin distillery, complete with visitor centre, located right beside his own Killaney Estate.
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A former sailor, Mr Cross grew his business Delta Print & Packaging into a west Belfast giant employing more than 300 people, securing contracts with McDonald's and KFC before selling the company to Finnish firm Huhtamaki in 2016 for £80m.
"It was never a plan (to sell). It was two years of due diligence," Mr Cross told Belfast Telegraph sister publication Ulster Business. "I'm very happy to say the Brexit issue was not foreseen by anyone - by the banks, markets or the politicians. "If it had been, the sale to Huhtamaki wouldn't have happened, or would have happened at a different price - and it would have been a hell of a lot less."
Now, he's turned his attention again to the drinks industry, with Hinch Distillery and his France plan.
"I was never going to do nothing," he said. You need a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
"That (the Hinch project) came out of the difficulty with Bordeaux wines and the difficulty to make profit."
Looking back on Delta Print & Packaging, he said printed packaging had been the major development which spurred on the business's success.
The company then grew into a major entity, producing cartons and packaging for giants of the food world such as Kellogg's.
Mr Cross grew up in the Antrim Road area of north Belfast. He was one of four children to father William and mother Rosaleen.
He studied at St Mary's in Belfast before serving across the world on merchant vessels.
His father, who lived to the age of 91, was responsible for shooting down planes of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War.
His chateau is also a wedding venue, and the vineyard - which covers 17 hectares - produces around 72,000 bottles a year.
The January edition of Ulster Business magazine is out now
How much Finnish firm Huhtamaki paid for Terry Cross's Delta Print & Packaging company in 2016