The company said it was investing more than £100M in the factory, as part of a broader £240M three-year programme designed to “step-change” the company’s manufacturing capability.
Three new can lines have already been installed at the site, which it claimed were among the fastest in Europe, producing 6,000 cans a minute.
The company said the design had reduced waste, boosted production and enabled aluminium or steel cans to be made on the same line. By April, its steel can formats would move to aluminium cans, removing 8,000t of metal annually, it added.
Groundworks have already started for a new on-site warehouse and aseptic line to produce preservative-free drinks.
Clive Hooper, chief supply chain officer at Britvic, said: “Rugby has been a home to Britvic for more than 30 years. The site has undergone significant change in that time; from the 1980s, when we manually produced drinks, through to the ’90s when we moved to full automation, to our position today as the proud owners of some of the fastest can lines in Europe.”
The news was revealed as Britvic posted first-quarter sales of £337.2M, an increase of 3.3% on the prior year.
Overall revenues in Great Britain increased by 1% as fizzy drinks continued to outperform the market with revenue increasing by 4.9%, driven by the continued success of Pepsi Max. Still drinks revenue declined by 6.6% with a volume decline of 4.4%.
The company revealed that, in the second quarter, it was launching more premium Robinsons Fruit Creations and cordials ranges in grocery, supported by a multichannel advertising campaign.
The failure of Palmer and Harvey had meant Britvic had had to absorb a number of one-off costs. However, it said it did not anticipate any “longer-term impact”, with its customer base being supplied by other wholesalers.
The business reported that the consultation on the proposed closure of its Norwich factory had ended and the site would close in 2019.
Pepsi Max and Refresh’d
The results were released as Britvic revealed two of its leading brands – Pepsi Max and Refresh’d – ended 2017 on a high.
Its Pepsi Max Cherry was also found to be the number one flavoured cola across the off-trade, while in terms of volume, Pepsi Max was now the biggest low- or no-sugar cola across the convenience and impulse sector.