THE INTERVIEW – Radnor Hills – The mineral water experts

The Radnor Hills Mineral Water Company is a leading British-owned, independent supplier of mineral and flavoured waters, school-compliant soft drinks and own label brands. The source of Radnor Hills lies in the old county of Radnorshire in Mid Wales. In this very underpopulated area the water filters naturally through layers of rock to achieve its exceptional taste, giving consumers a taste of one of the natural wonders of mid Wales. William Watkins, Managing Director of the Radnor Hills Mineral Water Company, spoke exclusively to Wholesale Manager.

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Wholesale Manager – William, how and when did the business start?

I started the business soon after finishing university in 1990. I worked on the family farm and discovered we had a huge water supply.

WM – How big is the business now?

We currently employ over 100 people, and our turnover last year was £26 Million. We produce approximately 175 million bottles a year.

WM – What does your role as MD involve day to day? Do you personally get involved with wholesaler customers?

I have a great team who do most of the day-to-day wholesaler liaison, but I oversee most elements.

WM – Who else is in your wholesale team? As a company, how do you work with wholesalers?

Our sales force cover four different regional areas, and in these areas they have responsibility for wholesalers, and other members of the sales force cover specific market sectors. Our sales team work innovatively with wholesalers to assist with team training and sales pull through.

RH-logo-largeWM – How do you sum up your company ethos? How are you different from the big, multi-national soft drink companies? Why should wholesalers buy soft drinks from Radnor Hills?

We focus on producing the best tasting products at the best value. We know how important both of these are to our wholesaler customers. Great tasting products mean plenty of repeat sales, at good margins to our wholesalers.

WM – Can you talk us through your brand portfolio and how the different brands fit together?

Our first brand was Radnor Hills mineral water, now available in all formats in both plastic and glass. We also do a fruity flavoured water under the brand Aqua Splash, which is a perfectly tasty way to rehydrate, and have recently redesigned this range and added a whole new selection of formats including 750ml and multipacks. As well as this we have a fantastic range of healthy school compliant drinks called Radnor Fizz and Radnor Fruits. These drinks all have one of your five a day, so they are nutritious as well as taste great! In addition we have recently developed our new range ’Heartsease Farm’, taking its name from the very farm my family came to in 1903. It looks good, uses the best ingredients, and most importantly tastes delicious.

WM – You include school-compliant soft drinks in your range. What do you define as ‘school-compliant’? What difference has the changes in what is acceptable in terms of products and marketing for soft drinks targeting children made to your business?

Last year the School Food Plan was published, which defined very specifically what types of food and drink were allowed to be sold in secondary schools. This followed on from the work done by the School Food Trust following Jamie Oliver’s intervention in school food. We are pleased to say that we have a full range of drinks, all of which comply to the tight standards included in the School Foods Plan, and these are not just allowed to be sold in schools but have also proved to be tasty and popular with the children.

WM – What do you see as the major trends in the soft drinks market and how are you responding to them?

There is obviously a trend for lower sugar content in soft drinks, but an even bigger one is natural ingredients. Consumers are demanding a healthier, more natural choice of soft drink, which is exactly what our new Heartsease Farm range offers.

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WM – What are your latest products?

We are bringing out new flavours for Heartsease Farm and new bottle sizes for our Aqua Splash range, and have brought out a brand new sports drink targeted at sporting professionals called ‘Pro Iso,’ in collaboration with top sports nutritionist Jon Williams and Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell.

WM – What marketing are you doing to promote your brands?

Firstly, we have updated and improved many of our bottle label designs recently. Secondly, we are taking stands at a huge number of consumer food and drink shows this year, as well as trade shows. This and our investment in PR are the main activities.

WM – Where do you see Radnor Hills going from here?

Anyone who buys our products knows one important fact about them is that they sell. So I can see more wholesale customers coming to us, using our portfolio of products and partnering with us to grow together.

Tel: 01547 530220

www.radnorhills.co.uk

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