Thatchers Cider boss celebrates duty drop

Thatchers boss, Martin Thatcher, in his orchards.

Thatchers boss, Martin Thatcher, in his orchards. - Credit: Archant

The boss of Sandford-based cider company Thatchers has said he is ‘delighted’ at plans announced in the 2015 budget to cut cider duty by two per cent.

Martin Thatcher praised the move, announced by Chancellor George Osborne, as a real boost to both the cider industry and the West Country economy.

Mr Thatcher said: “I am absolutely delighted at the drop in duty. We were previously concerned that beer had had a reduction for three years running, but cider had been left out in the cold.

“I feel as if the government has finally realised the importance of the cider industry. George Osborne even mentioned the West Country in his budget speech, and it certainly feels as if he is doing something for us.

“It shows the government understands how important this industry is, in particular to Somerset and the West Country in general.”

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Mr Thatcher says the decision to cut cider duty will have a positive impact on the industry overall. Cider companies employ apple growers on long-term contracts, which often last for 20 years or more, and according to Mr Thatcher, the duty reduction will give apple growers lots of reassurance.

He said: “The apple growers who work for us will now have some confidence that cider has a bright future. We create 25-year contracts with the apple growers, and long-term contracts are an industry practice, so it is good to feel the Government is on our side.

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“The UK cider industry will be planting another 500 acres of orchards this spring, which gives approximately £30million to the rural economy.

“At Thatchers, we will be planting another 100,000 apple trees over the next few weeks. We must plan quite far in advance, as the average lifespan of an orchard is usually around 30-40 years. Things like this year’s budget really give us the confidence to go ahead.”

Meanwhile, Thatchers’ new pub, the Railway Inn in Greenhill Road, Sandford, is expected to open in early summer. A manager and head chef have already been recruited.

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