Aspall cider sold to US beer giant

Aspall, the cider brand founded in Suffolk in 1728, has been sold to the US beer giant that owns brands including Carling and Miller.

Molson Coors said it wanted to make Aspall the UK's top-selling premium cider and build on the potential of its vinegars.

The UK is the world's biggest market for cider, accounting for 45% of sales.

Barry Chevallier Guild, chairman of Aspall, said the firm had been in talks with Molson Coors for more than a year.

The US company had the scale and expertise to accelerate the growth of Aspall cider in the UK and beyond, he added.

The volume of cider sold by Aspall in 2016 rose by a tenth.

Financial terms have not been disclosed, but the deal is thought to value Aspall at about £40m including debt.

The company operates from a single site in the parish of Aspall, Suffolk, where the Chevallier family first planted the orchards at Aspall Hall.

Members of the family will continue to play a role in the business.

Henry Chevallier Guild added: "There is a real opportunity to elevate and grow the status of English cider in the UK and abroad both as a beverage and as an excellent partner for food. We believe that Molson Coors investment will provide the catalyst to grow Aspall and build the recognition for quality cider worldwide."

The value of the cider market rose by a quarter between 2010 and 2015 and is expected to continue expanding in the coming years.

More than half of all apples grown in the UK are used to make cider and the industry supports almost 11,000 jobs, according to the National Association of Cider Makers.

It is not the first time Molson Coors has snapped up a small UK drinks maker – in 2011 it bought Cornwall-based Sharp's Brewery for £20m.

The company also runs breweries at Burton-upon-Trent, Tadcaster, Burtonwood and Cork, Ireland and accounts for about 20% of the UK beer market, with Carling the country's top-selling beer.

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