Monday 16 December 2019

Ishka Irish Spring Water to invest €12m in US and Chinese expansion


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Sean Pollock

Ishka Irish Spring Water, a family-owned bottled water producer based in Co Limerick, is to invest €12m in two new production facilities as it starts exporting to the US and China.

The company, headed by brothers Michael and Dennis Sutton, manufactures its branded Ishka water as well as private label water for supermarkets. It has undergone a period of growth recently, with its latest results showing profits had grown to nearly €1.6m in the year ended February 2019, up from almost €97,000 in its previous results for the year ended August 2017.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Michael Sutton said he and his brother were excited by the opportunities presented in the new markets.

"The excitement to bring the business to where it is today is great," he said. "To see really good potential for our product is what we do this for."

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Michael said the company had identified the opportunity in exporting Irish spring water to the US and China and began testing its product in both markets. The company has established a team on the ground who have already engaged with customers and distributors reporting strong sales.

Ishka has targeted full entry to the US market by the first quarter of next year, targeting sales of up to $8m (€7.3m) in its first year.

It hopes to fully launch in China by the third quarter of 2020, targeting similar sales in its first year.

"There is a great opportunity [in those countries] for good quality Irish spring water and lots of it," Michael said.

In support of the new markets, Ishka has also invested in two new production lines which will come into service in the first half of next year. One of the new lines will be for glass bottles, with the other for recyclable containers as part of Ishka's sustainability plan.

It will also hire nine new staff, bringing its total head-count to 45.

Ishka has also begun exploring the production of a new well. If the new well comes on stream, the company will be able to increase the amount of water produced from 51,000 litres an hour to 81,000.

Michael said the company has also experienced sales growth of 34pc year on year. "We can see ourselves being positioned as number one independent water brand in the country with both private label and the Ishka brand," he said. "We feel we are growing at the rate to support that position."

Ishka currently supplies private label water and its Ishka brand to companies including Aldi, BWG Group, Dunnes Stores, Lidl and Musgrave Group. Michael added that Ishka recently won a contract to supply WH Smith in Ireland.

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