A FAMILY business, started from scratch by Michael Sutton Senior in 1977, is to spend €3.5m expanding its Irish spring water company in Ballyneety.
Mr Sutton Snr set up Munster Soft Drinks in Monaleen. They distributed soft drinks before branching in to Ishka spring water in 1990. They moved premises to Ballyneety in 2007 and have just received planning permission from Limerick County Council for a new distribution centre and 92,000 sq ft of buildings and offices.
Since Mr Sutton retired, the business has been run by his sons Mike and Denis.
Mike Sutton Jnr says the €3.5m development will mean up to ten new jobs when work is completed, not counting the employment created through the construction phase.
“We’re growing and proud of it. It has come through a lot of hard work from everyone involved and especially our dad who saw the gap in the market in 1977,” said Mike Sutton Jnr.
The headquarters in Ballyneety is a purpose built state of the art facility and the expansion will allow them to grow their business, said Denis.
“A new high speed bottling line will deliver over 600 bottles per minute. When we started in Ballyneety in 2007 the number of bottles produced was 5 million. Volumes topped the 40 million mark last year and we hope to rise that to 60 million next year. We acquired Duncarrig Spring Water in Roscommon last year,” said Denis Sutton.
Ishka holds a Grade A BRC certificate for their water which is naturally filtered through Limerick limestone.
“It is the highest standard you can get in Europe. It just shows the quality of water in County Limerick and Ballyneety,” said Denis. Currently there are three wells on site to ensure the water is always flowing.
As well as producing their own brand of water, Munster Soft Drinks also contract fill for major retailers, supermarkets and discounters in Ireland and the UK.
“Asda in the UK have invited us to go through a tendering process which is happening currently. It’s a very exciting time,” said Mike Sutton Jnr.
When they made the move to Ballyneety they had seven staff. Now that has risen to 15 with up to 10 more on the way, The works are expected to finish in mid-June. Final talks and preparations have taken place in Munich recently to make an entry into the bottle blow moulding industry, which will reduce their carbon footprint. The are also to manufacture sports nutrition.
Michael Sutton Snr who founded the company 35 years ago said he was delighted with the successful planning permission news.
“It’s a great result and good news for the company and community. I’m delighted for the lads and staff and thanks to all who made this possible,” said Mr Sutton Snr.