WESTONS Cider has started shipping out large stocks of its drinks ready for them to be available at Weatherspoon pubs by next week. 

The Much Marcle business has signed a new deal with the pub chain, which has more than a thousand outlets across the UK and Ireland. This will see Stowford Press, and the Mixed Berries fruit version, available at all of them.

However, Weston’s gain comes at the expense of another Herefordshire business, Strongbow, which will no longer be stocked by the pub group. This brings an end to a 41-year association between Wetherspoon and Heineken, the company behind both Strongbow and Bulmers.

Darryl Hinksman, Weston’s head of business development, said the deal was “really big news for us”. He added that the news came on top of “ongoing growth which has been happening over the last 18 months or so”. 

As we reported in May this year, the company unveiled a new £3 million packaging line, capable of turning out 12,500 cans per hour. 

The cider mill is currently advertising for five new employees, including two maintenance engineers, a laboratory technician, a process operative and a chef. “None of the vacancies are specifically related to this new contract — but of course this helps,” said Mr Hinksman.

In a statement, Wetherspoon’s chairman Tim Martin said: “Budweiser Brewing Group UK will now become our biggest supplier, with new beers Budweiser, Corona and Leffe Blonde, in addition to their existing products, Stella Artois and Bud Light — as well as a range of bottled beers.

"We are also pleased to have agreed long-term supply deals with BrewDog, Westons Cider, Carlsberg and Molson Coors.

"Wetherspoon will continue to sell a wide range of traditional ales and craft beers from regional and micro brewers at competitive prices.

"We’re very pleased to have such a brilliant group of brewers supporting our efforts.”

Weston’s was founded in Much Marcle in 1878 by Henry Weston. The business remains independently owned by his family, who can now count themselves as fourth and fifth generation cider makers.

It currently employs some 230 people has an annual turnover of about £65 million. 

The site also attracts about 40,000 visitors per year, both for pre-booked tours and to eat at its Scrumpy House restaurant.

Its other popular ciders include Henry Westons Vintage, Old Rosie, Mortimer’s Orchard and Rosie’s Pig.