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SuperGroup's Julian Dunkerton expands family business with Gloucestershire's biggest cider factory

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Written by: Jenni Phillips | Posted 20 October 2017 10:44

SuperGroup's Julian Dunkerton expands family business with Gloucestershire's biggest cider factory

He's one of the UK's richest men, with the Superdry brand taking over the world, but Julian Dunkerton's latest business project is something close to his home and his heart.

The latest addition to his Dowdeswell Estates base on the side of the A40 in Charlton Kings is Dunkerton's Cider.

Dunkerton's Cider was founded by his father Ivor and step-mother Susie back in 1980 as a small, artisan brand producing organic cider.

Using apples from their Herefordshire farm and a group of local growers, the brand grew over the years.

 
Apples at Dunkertons Cider Co (Image: Anna Lythgoe)

Three years ago Julian took over, with Jeremy Benson from Benson's Fruit Juices coming in as managing director, allowing Ivor and Susie to retire, although Ivor remained closely involved in the tasting and blending right up until his death last year.

But success and growth has meant the business outgrew its original press and bottling plant in Herefordshire and with land already purchased at Dowdeswell, Julian moved Dunkerton's over the border.

With the harvest well under way it is a busy time at the purpose built site on the outskirts of Cheltenham.

 
Tour of Dunkertons Cider Co MD Bean Benson (Image: Anna Lythgoe)

Managing director Jeremy Benson explained: "This all came about from Julian approaching me about three years ago and asking me to get involved in Dunkerton's cider. I make fruit juices and ice lollies so it is a similar manufacturing background.

"I met Ivor who made the best cider in the world and the opportunity arose for us to move into a site where we could grow.

"It is great in Hereford but there was a limitation on growing the business so Julian bought this and is has allowed us to expand."

Five full time staff members work at Dunkerton's with various others part time roles brought in seasonally.

 
The apples are sorted (Image: Anna Lythgoe)

The quality cider still remains but with production shifted over the border from Herefordshire to Dowdeswell the company looks set to double its output and create more than one million litres in the next year.

Coming in Spring 2018 is a cider shop and bar, built at the side of the wood-clad structure. Visitors will be able to see the production line and watch the bottles being filled.

 
The exterior of Dunkertons Cider Co., Dowdeswell Park (Image: Anna Lythgoe)

"Julian is building a retail cider shop on the side of the warehouse that is where we hope to sell the majority of the cider," explained Jeremy.

It is also sold through Waitrose, local artisan shops and Julian's Lucky Onion hotels and bars.

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