120 Year Villa Soft Drinks Gets Fizz Back

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Retaining the brand

Trading for over 120 years, Villa has been quenching thirsts across the North East for more than a century.  Initially selling just in North East England but now throughout the UK. It has a manufacturing base in Southwick, Sunderland.

In December 27 of the company’s 58 employees were made redundant after the business was placed in the hands of administrators BDO Stoy Hayward, of Leeds.

The purchase by a newly formed company owned by Malcolm Slatcher will ensure the well-known Villa name will be retained.

Mr Slatcher’s purchase will safeguard the jobs of the current 25 workers and create nine new roles.

One North East Investment

Investment from the regional development agency helped secure the buy-out from administration saving the company from closure.

One North East has awarded the company a Grant for Business Investment of £132,000 to support the purchase of the Sunderland site and machinery from administrators, BDO Stoy Hayward, safeguarding the existing 25 jobs and creating nine new roles immediately.

One North East Director of Business and Industry, Ian Williams, said: “Villa Soft Drinks is a well known North East company that is recognised not only in the region, but across the UK. I am delighted that One North East has been able to play a part in supporting this company, which is a regional institution.

“Villa has borne the brunt of a drop in sales during successive poor summers and of course the current economic downturn, but the former owners have invested heavily in its production processes in recent years and I feel it is well equipped to weather the recession and continue its long history of providing quality soft drinks.”

The new Managing Director, Malcolm Slatcher, said: “This project heralds a new dawn for Villa Soft Drinks and I am delighted we have been able to prevent the closure of this much-loved North East brand.”

Mr Slatcher, who has 23 year’s experience in the soft drinks industry, added: “There is a first class team of employees who now have their jobs safeguarded and we now all have the opportunity to take Villa forward and realise its full potential.”

Combined support

Michael Cantwell of accountants Tenon helped the new company facilitate the funding. He said: “This acquisition reflects the ability of the North East professional services industry to undertake acquisitions despite the difficult economic climate. A combined effort by Malcolm, Tenon, Muckles and Tyne and Wear Development Company has secured the investment by the various local bodies and, in turn, the future of Villa Soft Drinks.”

Muckle Solicitors acted as legal advisors, additional public sector support was also received from Sunderland City Council and Tyne and Wear Development Company as well as loan assistance from Entrust.

Craig Swinhoe of Newcastle lawyers Muckle LLP, who headed a team of five lawyers working on the transaction added: “Recently we have seen a lot of deals like this and like the others this deal had its own complexities and time pressures, however we were delighted to have played a role in a supporting and securing the future of another well known North East business.”

Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The City Council is pleased to have been able to support this project which has preserved local jobs in the city. This is an excellent example of partners responding quickly to opportunities to achieve a successful outcome.”

Villa Soft Drinks was founded on carbonated drinks and developed further in 1990 when a borehole was sunk in Sunderland to give access to the bottled water market. Villa was one of the first companies to produce flavoured water. The company now concentrates on fruit juices and carbonated drinks.

If you would like to benefit from Grant for Business Investment support, please contact Business Link on: 0845 600 9006 or go to www.businesslink.gov.uk/northeast