Magazine article Management Today

Business Is Great: Ripe for Growth - Westons Cider

Magazine article Management Today

Business Is Great: Ripe for Growth - Westons Cider

Article excerpt

Westons has been producing cider at its mill in the village of Much Marcle in Herefordshire since 1878. Since then, using apples grown on the farm, it has continued to lovingly produce cider and perry of the highest quality.

'Yet whenever I'm asked about the secret of our success, people seemed surprised when I say the most important ingredient isn't actually our apples,' says Helen Thomas, the fourth-generation managing director of the Weston family business.

'While apples are of course vitally important, for me the key ingredient is our staff. We're a family business and they are very much part of the family. It is only through their dedication and passion that we can produce the quality of cider fit to bear our family name. This is why we nurture our people as carefully as our apples.' This approach originated with Westons' founder, Henry, who installed a hogshead in the cider house for the farm workers to fill their wooden 'costrels' and share in the fruits of their labour.

'When I joined as a director, it was really important to know where we were going and how to get there,' says Thomas. 'We decided to remain independent and have developed plans since then. We are here for future generations.'

A Westons Academy has been established and a training and development plan now enables Westons' employees - from farmers to cider makers to marketers to logistics experts - to move across the organisation. It's all part of the long-term vision. 'We have been in business for 130 years,' says Thomas, 'but we are only a little way on our journey.'

WESTONS TIMELINE HOW A DYNASTY BORE FRUIT

1878: Henry Weston and his wife, Emily, move to The Bounds at Much Marcle and immerse themselves in cultivating the 166-acre farm and growing apples

1880: Henry starts selling his cider commercially

1896: A cider lover and friend of Henry Weston, Radcliffe Cooke, introduces the tipple to his fellow MPs

1917: Henry Weston dies and his three sons, Hubert, Stafford and Leonard, take over

1919: Westons buys its first lorry, allowing bulk deliveries to the West Country and Midlands

1920: The brothers buy The Bounds from their landlord, adding two neighbouring farms, expanding the estate to 450 acres

1925: The brothers open a fully equipped garage that continues to service many of the vehicles that work on the cider mill today

1933: Westons opens The Cider House on London's Harrow Road

1971: Hubert's son Norman takes over the running of Westons

1992: Westons starts exporting to Europe and beyond

1996: Helen Thomas, great granddaughter of Henry Weston becomes managing director

2000: Westons switches to using a stainless steel hydraulic press

2008: Wins Chamber of Commerce Award for Excellence in the food and drink industry

2011: Plants another 1,000 acres of apple trees

2012: Westons buys World Brands in Australia

2013: Moves offices, staff rest room and gym into new building

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