ALDI’s €4.4m deal with Armagh business holds water

Classic Mineral Water is Ireland’s oldest water bottling company and deal with ALDI will enable it to invest in its future.

Classic Mineral Water in Lurgan, Armagh, has signed a new €4.4m (£3.8m) deal with ALDI Ireland.

The business employs 70 staff full-time staff members.

“Pragmatic growth continues as Classic Mineral Water invests in production capabilities to allow the business to continue to grow and adapt over the coming years”

Produced and packaged in Ireland, Classic Mineral Water produce a suite of water products for ALDI’s stores in Ireland including Still Water 5l, Still Water Spring 6x2l, Water Sportscap 24x500ml and Sparkling Spring Water 6x2l. These products are sold under the well-known Comeragh brand name which is available across ALDI stores nationwide.

The new contract will enable Classic Mineral Water to invest in upgrading their facilities including the installation of a new pasteurisation system that will be operational from April 2023. This latest technology will have the capability to produce isotonic products in both 500ml and 750ml bottle sizes, delivering a variety of flavours including orange, raspberry, cherry, tropical and tropical blue.

Spring forward to a sustainable future

This new investment will allow Classic Mineral Water to upgrade their current syrup room facilities and move to using tethered caps immediately, which will help reduce the amount of plastic and cardboard used in the production process.  

Classic Mineral Water is Ireland’s oldest water bottling company. Founded in 1948 by James McKee, the company sold soft drinks directly to customers homes, made from local town water. In 1980, after the discovery of a unique mineral water source, the McKee family decided to diversify its product range and launched the production of bottled and flavoured water.

This allowed the company to start supplying directly to shops and supermarkets which resulted in Classic Mineral Water being listed as a preferred water supplier in Ireland.

“We have been working with ALDI since July 2019, developing a strong business relationship over the past three and half years,” said Liam Duffy, CEO of Classic Mineral Water.

“Despite all the challenges that we have faced as a business over the past few years, we have continued to work together to ensure that ALDI customers have access to high quality products at an affordable price. Pragmatic growth continues as Classic Mineral Water invests in production capabilities to allow the business to continue to grow and adapt over the coming years.”

Over the past 40 years, the company has developed a wide portfolio of high- quality products and is one of the few bottling companies that can produce a full suite of products to its customers including still and sparkling water, flavoured waters, mixers, isotonic and glucose drinks.

In 2018, the McKee family decided to retire from the business and sold the company to Liam Duffy and Gerard Watters, two lifelong friends. Since 2019, a total of £6M/€6.8M has been invested in installing three high speed bottling lines and ancillary services to meet customer demands. This investment has seen the company’s turnover rise from £2M/€2.3M in 2018 to more than £15M/€17M in 2023. The owners are confident that they will reach over £20M/€22.7M in 2024.

ALDI says it is committed to growing its Irish supply base and increasing the number of Irish products available in its stores.  Currently working with over 330 Irish food and drink producers, ALDI spent €1.1B with its Irish suppliers in 2022.

“Classic Mineral Water has supplied our Irish stores for three and half years and we are delighted to extend our partnership for a further year,” said John Curtin, ALDI Group buying director.

“At ALDI, we are committed to working with Irish producers like Classic Mineral Water who continue to expand and grow their business to deliver customers with a wide range of high-quality products.”

Main image at top: Liam Duffy, CEO, Classic Mineral Water and Laurence Kelly, Buying Director at ALDI Ireland

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.