Boxford drinks manufacturer Konings lifts lid on ten-year expansion proposals

PepsiCo Copella juice factory at Boxford Farm, Suffolk.
PepsiCo Copella juice factory at Boxford Farm, Suffolk.

Boxford drinks manufacturer Konings has started talks with nearby residents’ groups and parish councillors to explain its factory expansion plans.

Site manager Phil Clark said a planning application has now been submitted for approval to extend the 5.5 acre factory site in Brick Kiln Hill to a 19-acre manufacturing base over the next 10 years.

Phil Clark, site manager at Konings, Boxford

Phil Clark, site manager at Konings, Boxford

The Belgian firm wants to increase its UK manufacturing operations in Boxford, including new bottling and canning facilities to produce around 200 million cans of branded, and possibly own-brand, cider a year.

The £35 million investment will create 116 new jobs and could bring an additional £3.7 million in annual income to the region, it says. New jobs will include machine operators, logistics staff, supervisors and engineers.

Speaking to the Free Press on Tuesday, Mr Clark said: “We have given this proposal an awful lot of thought and we believe it’s the right thing to show people our full intention for the site in the long-term. We believe that is the honest thing to do.

“I have been to some parish council meetings, and have shown parish councillors around and I plan to go to more meetings. I have also spoken to residents.

“I am aware there will be concerns about things like traffic and noise and screening for example, and we will work to address people’s concerns. We want to be as open as possible.”

Mr Clark said the proposal includes landscaping to help to mitigate the factory’s appearance, as well as paint and materials to blend in with present buildings.

There are plans to reduce the number of fork lift truck movements, with changes to the way trailers are unloaded and loaded.

More heavy goods vehicles will come and go from the site each week, increasing from 135 to 314. But, he said, planning permission was granted in 2007 for the increased number of lorries, and Konings had decided not to go beyond that number.

Due to weight restrictions, factory traffic cannot get to the A12 via Stoke-by-Nayland. Lorries have to turn right out of the factory on to the A134, with 60 per cent of lorries going via Sudbury to the A14 and 40 per cent going towards Colchester for the A12.

Konings, which produces Copella apple juice from the Boxford site, acquired the factory from Pepsico last year, saying it wanted to expand its manufacturing capacity.

The factory sits on the edge of the Dedham Vale area of outstanding beauty.

Mr Clark said a recent trend in food manufacturing was to relocate operations from Europe to the UK because of fears over the implications of Brexit on operations, such as currency fluctuations and import restrictions.

He added: “The UK imports a lot from Europe and there is a move to bring production for the UK back to the UK for manufacture.”