A SOFT drinks company has unveiled a £1.5m blueprint to bolster operations after matching job creation with record production.

Clearly Drinks is pushing ahead with plans to buy bottle-blowing equipment and associated apparatus, which bosses say will speed up work and help meet demand from domestic and international customers.

The move comes after the business took on a 21,000sq ft building next to its Sunderland factory for warehousing and a new production line, and drilled a new borehole for an on-site spring.

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Officials say that extension will help the company, which has taken staff numbers from 62 to 70, hit a production target of 75 million bottles in 2017, which would outshine the 69 million last year and 52 million recorded in 2015.

The firm produces zero sugar drink Perfectly Clear, with other brands including 1870 mixers, Northumbria Spring and Perfectly Clear Kids.

However, it is now looking to launch new offerings and Mark Bell, operations director, said the plant expansion will be a crucial factor in making such ambitions become a reality.

He said: “This has been one of our busiest years, buying a new building to create a new production line and warehousing, and digging the borehole to futureproof the company.

“Our first-rate workforce is hugely important to our success.

“It means we produce delicious drinks, and we can turn round new orders remarkably quickly.

“We pride ourselves on our flexibility, high standards and always putting the customer first.”

The business rebranded from Contract Bottling to Clearly Drinks last year, with the former name coming after a previous change from Villa Drinks.

Its fills bottles for a wide range of customers, which include supermarket chains and cash and carry operators such as B&M, Heron Foods, Costco, Nisa, Poundworld and Poundstretcher.

The company also produces in excess of 4,000 pallets of cordial for shipment to Saudi Arabia every year, with its high sugar level providing a welcome energy boost during Ramadan.

Sunderland City Council’s business investment team is providing advice on the business’ latest outlay, with major shareholder NorthEdge also backing the move.

Councillor Mel Speding, the authority’s cabinet secretary, said: “I’m delighted that Clearly Drinks’ success has led to more job opportunities and productivity in the city.

“The commitment and passion of its staff has won it loyal customers and record production levels this year.”