The ongoing factory development was to meet the need for growing demand from the out of home sector, the company said.
The new robotic arm was formally declared operational by Nichols chief executive Marnie Millard at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held yesterday (17 April).
Other site investments included a new labelling system and sugar pump automation. Nichols said a dry sugar silo ready for dissolver would be added later this year, and a fifth production line – aimed to bring all Nichols’ manufacturing under one roof – was in the planning stages.
The site specialises in packing juices and syrups in bag-in-box formats of its own products, which include Vimto, Froozle, Starslush and The Feel Good Drinks. It also has licence agreements with Coca-Cola European Partners, AG Barr and Britvic, among others.
Having acquired the site from Dayla in 2011, supply chain director Andy Johnson said Nichols had a long-term commitment to Vimto Ross.
“We are fit for the future, and we are here to stay,” he said. “We are increasing our capacities and our innovation. And, more importantly, we want to be seen as the employer of choice in this area.”
Vimto Ross has also invested in its people, with a new management programme to upskill its managers, a new skills matrix to develop the team and further health and safety training, Johnson explained.
Automising the factory
The automisation of many parts of the factory as a result of the investment had also led to a different training platform, he added.
“Vimto Ross currently employs 42 people and wants to remain the employer of choice in the area, by providing a local feel with plc benefits,” Johnson said.
“Additionally, the business maintains its pledge to employees that for every £1 raised for local charities it will match, encouraging our employees to give something back locally.”
All Vimto’s own products produced at the site fall below the threshold for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which came into force on 6 April.