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President of Malta Dr Edward Fenech Adami and His Grace the Archbishop of Malta Paul Cremona flanked by Farsons Group Chief Executive Mr Louis A Farrugia (first left) and Farsons Chairman Mr Bryan A Gera, Mrs Christine Gera and Farsons Chief Operating Officer Mr Paul Micallef visited the new Logistics Centre during the inauguration of the capital investment of Simonds Farsons Cisk plc.

During the inauguration of Simonds Farsons Cisk €24.5 million investment in two capital projects, the President of Malta Dr Edward Fenech Adami unveiled the plaque in the presence of His Grace the Archbishop of Malta Paul Cremona, Farsons Chairman Mr Bryan A Gera and Farsons Group Chief Executive Mr Louis A Farrugia.

A €24.5 million investment in two capital projects was inaugurated by the President of Malta Dr Edward Fenech Adami in the presence of Farsons Chairman Mr Bryan A Gera and Farsons Group Chief Executive Mr Louis A Farrugia at Farsons Brewery in Mriehel, this evening. Now, Simonds Farsons Cisk plc has both a fully operational brand new Packaging Centre for Soft-drinks and a state-of-the-art Logistics Centre. These important milestones in the Company’s history were planned to coincide with the 80th Anniversary of the foundation of Farsons.

Held under a huge marquee set up between the two new  projects the inauguration ceremony was attended by the Archbishop of Malta, Government Ministers, The Chief Justice, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Farsons Board of Directors senior company officials, and members of the commercial and industrial community.

A number of overseas guests, representing companies such as Anheuser Busch, Carlsberg, Pepsico, with which Farsons has a business relationship going back in some cases a number of decades, came to Malta specifically for this occasion. Another group included eight representatives from United States of America, Italy, and Russia who are all either buying Kinnie and/or Cisk products from Farsons or about to sign up. A number of overseas principals who are suppliers to the Wands subsidiary companies also attended.

Farsons Chairman, Bryan A Gera, said: “The history of our Company is a constant demonstration of the commitment, which its stewards, over the years, have shown to always be at the forefront of industry in Malta since 1950.” 

Mr Gera paid tribute to the late Mr Lewis Farrugia for his vision in seeing the potential of a Brewery in Malta in the post war era, and to the late Mr Anthony Miceli Farrugia for additions to the Company’s portfolio, particularly Kinnie that made its mark in the soft drinks market in Malta and overseas. He thanked the present Group CEO, Mr Farrugia for conceiving and managing the Master Plan for the Brewery, a development that saw the Brewery change in a physical sense, improve its mode of operation up to European Standards making it one of the most advanced in the Mediterranean.

“The completion of the state of the art Logistics Centre and new Soft Drinks Packaging Centre, not only gives us the confidence that we would remain a market leader in the domestic market but also encourages us to further exploit the potential which our own branded products have on the export markets,” said Mr Gera.

Increasing efficiency, enhancing the quality and improving the service were the main themes of Mr Farrugia’s address. He said: “This is a Group very much on the move – and in a number of ways. We have radically modernised, and physically re-located, our operations and administration functions. The aim of this investment is to increase efficiency, to continue improving the quality of our product, enhance service to trade.

Significantly, we are also on the move in internationalising our brands beyond our core market. So it’s very encouraging that all our stakeholders - management, employees, unions, shareholders, consumers and Government - have understood the significance of these projects in strengthening the Company’s position.

“These projects will enable us to keep on moving ahead and to meet the challenges of a completely liberalised market whilst guaranteeing the quality of the branded products the Farsons Group produces and is privileged to be associated with,” said Mr Farrugia.

Describing the Marquis Scicluna, his father Lewis Farrugia and his late cousin Anthony Miceli-Farrugia not only as the Company’s pioneers but as persons with a great vision, Mr Farrugia thanked Farsons Chairman and the Board of Directors for their constant valid and wise contribution.

“Deserved thanks go to all our stakeholders: management, employees, unions, shareholders, consumers, HSBC Malta, Malta Enterprise and Government for understanding that these projects will be strengthening the Company’s position. They will enable us to meet the challenges of a completely liberalised market and serve to help the Company’s endeavours in further substituting importation for the benefit of our shareholders and employees, and finally the Maltese economy itself. The quality of our products will continue to improve and therefore we are now in a much better position to compete with high quality products from other European countries,” said Farsons Group Chief Executive.

The last phase of the Brewery Master Plan is the building of a new Brewhouse, scheduled to start in mid-2009 and be in operation by the end of the first quarter of 2011.  On completion, the main Brewery building will be freed up and Farsons are planning to make good use of it as a possible Business Park for the financial service industry.

Project conducted by Farsons team
Construction works on the new Centres started in Spring 2005. The two projects were implemented by a Project Team consisting of members of the Company’s Management Team and assisted by consultants.

Significant investment in human capital
These two Centres entailed a significant investment in new technology that demands new skills from Farsons employees. Farsons has always provided continuous training so that employees become more familiar with any new technology that is introduced. Even in this case, Farsons embarked on the necessary training programme in collaboration with the Unions who represent its employees. At present, the Farsons Group employs 850 full time equivalents. 

New Softdrinks Packaging Centre
The Soft Drinks Line is capable of producing carbonated soft drinks, beer and beer mixers and both still and carbonated water. It can handle 50cl bottles at speeds of 18,000 bottles per hour. Key equipment in the Soft Drinks Line include a bottle blowing machine, rinser and filler, a mixer carbonator complete with chiller, 3 palletising machines, and a conveyor to the new Logistics Centre.

New Logistics Centre
The key principle in the entire design of the Logistics Centre was to store the products in the right ambience at the right temperature and ensure a constant flow of products in and out of the Centre with adequate marshalling space. This Logistics Centre is replacing the five depots located around Malta and also incorporates the operations of Wands Limited and Anthony Caruana and Sons Ltd.

This Logistics Centre has a fully computerised Warehouse Management System.  This allows bulk breaking and direct dispatch to trade. The pallet conveyor is directly fed from the production areas. It has 11,000 pallet positions, a cooled area for beer at 21Cº, and seven levels of high bay racking.

An allocated area, measuring 1,000sqm of storage 7 metres high, will cater specifically for Wands’ wines and spirits. The spirits will be stored at ambient temperature while wines will be stored at 15Cº. The facility is HACCP and ISO9001 approved.

Eco Friendly Measures
Particular attention has been given to environmental aspects. All structures are insulated and a building management system allows full control so as to optimise energy use. Heat exchangers have been installed to allow energy recovery during air circulation, and energy efficient lights were fitted where possible. Fork lift trucks operate with a battery regeneration system, and new trucks meet Euro4 emission standards. While solar heating will be employed for non-industrial hot water, all rain water from the site will be collected.