14 Jan 2015
H&A Prestige Bottling MD BOB WOOLF celebrates 50 years in the Drinks Trade
Bob Woolf, Managing Director of two North-West based businesses, celebrates 50 years in the drinks trade.
Bob oversees both H&A Prestige Bottling Limited, one of the UK's largest independent wine and spirits bottling companies, and Willow Water Limited, a highly successful spring water company based at Flookburgh on the edge of the Lake District.
Both companies are associated with Halewood International Limited, the UK's largest independent drinks manufacturer and distributor, and remain key to Halewood International's on-going growth.
H&A Prestige Bottling offers a complete design, filling and bonded warehouse service for the licensed and multiple grocer markets, specialising in the production of quality branded and own label spirits, liqueurs, wines and syrups in both glass and PET bottles as well as bag in box.
Willow Water is a key brand within Halewood International's soft drinks portfolio as a pure spring water, bottled at source from a natural aquifer and containing a unique mineral composition which is high in calcium and also has a trace element of Salicin, a common ingredient used in beauty products to improve the complexion of your skin.
Bob Woolf began his career in the drinks trade in 1966 when he joined Tomlinson's Licensed Grocers, in Cheshire, as an assistant in the drinks department, before moving to prestigious Wine Merchants Peter Dominic.
After a spell with Greenall's, Bob joined the Halewood International group in 2002, initially as Purchasing Director for Classic Drinks Limited and, following its sale to Booker, he became, in 2011, Managing Director of H&A Prestige Bottling and subsequently Managing Director of Willow Water.
Bob commented on his on-going passion for both companies:
"It all comes down to the quality, expertise and commitment of your staff. At both H&A and Willow we have amongst the best, if not the best, staff in the business. At H&A we have key personnel who have been with us for over 30 years and can demonstrate real expertise and knowledge.
"The right staff and state-of-the-art facilities are critical in attracting new customers and this is what both H&A and Willow Water have done in the last few years."
For example H&A now has 11 bottling lines filling 3cl to 4.5ltr in PET and glass, a bag in box filler for filling 1.5ltr to 10ltr, a shot pot line filling 25ml to 30ml, and also a pouch-filling line for 1ltr to 3ltr. The business can also undertake bespoke hand-filling and labelling and also has a high-speed line with optical orientation system, with self-adhesive labelling.
The business remains highly innovative and offers its clients technical support from concept to final pack, including product blending and development, and it can run batch sizes from 100 cases to 100,000 cases.
H&A is now looking at wine and cocktails in 'pouches' and even spirits and cider in 'bag in box' to cater for client demands, as Bob outlines: "Clients expect a speedy service and a quality outcome and, to deliver this, we are making an investment of £250,000 in a new bottling line and premium capsule machine, both of which will be delivered by the end of the year."
H&A is now working with clients in places as Switzerland, Finland, China, USA, Canada, Spain Australia and Eire, whilst Willow Water can be found in major retailers such as Waitrose, Asda, Tesco, Booths, Ocado, Halls and many independent health food stores and independent retailers.
Bob summarised: "My appetite for the trade has not diminished over the last 50 years; it still excites me and I am ready to embrace all the challenges and opportunities to drive the future business successes of both H&A Prestige Bottling and Willow Water."