Making it Work

Borrisoleigh Bottling boldly looks to the future with new eco HyGo water carton

The Co Tipperary firm, which already produces WB Yeats brand water for hotels and restaurants, is launching its first direct-to-consumer sustainable alternative to plastic bottles

Dermot Honan, chief executive, Borrisoleigh Bottling. ‘We felt we weren’t competitive. We made a bold step to move away from plastics.’ Picture: John D Kelly

Borrisoleigh Bottling is launching its first direct-to-consumer cartoned water product, called HyGo. The Co Tipperary business produces WB Yeats brand water for hotels and restaurants, and is making the move to supplement its current business-to-business operation.

The business was started by John Hegarty and Rory McLoughney in 2017, at a 70,000 square foot facility that was previously part of the Gleeson Group. The cartoned water is produced in 330ml and 500ml packaging, aiming to offer a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic bottles.

Dermot Honan, chief executive of Borrisoleigh Bottling, said the decision to focus on cartons grew out of a need to find a route to scalable growth for the business.

“We had some big decisions to make. We felt we weren’t competitive. We made a bold step to move away from plastics. We went for an alternative type of packaging,” Honan told the Business Post.

“We progressed that through 2019 and started installation in 2020. We were the first to do it in Europe and we’re still the only one in Ireland. It’s got great sustainability credentials as it’s broadly speaking a plant-based package. If you see a carton like that in Ireland, it’s ours. If you see it across the continent, it’s probably ours as well.”

Honan said the consumer can recognise the obvious sustainability offering from this style of packaging, with it also standing out as unique on a shelf.

“The hospitality and food service industry has really taken to the sustainability message. A significant number of hotels are either using it under their own brands or under the WB Yeats brand,” Honan said.

“The first carton came off the line in April 2020. We have doubled company revenue every year for the last three years. We’ve come from being a start-up in a challenging environment to where we’re now getting positive returns. We’re continuing to grow.”

The business has been supported by Enterprise Ireland and is part of the high-potential start-up unit (HPSU).

“When we showed them what the long-term market looked like, they were very impressed. They saw that we could be at the vanguard of that change in Ireland. They’ve come in behind us very strongly,” Honan said.

“It’s real support with networks and contacts, while they also provided us with some financial assistance. They are a strong ally.”

The business is planning on expanding more internationally, having already built strong roots overseas.

“The UK is a big market for us and we’re supplying into Europe. We have grown a lot through co-packing activities and through the next year we’re going to continue to do that,” Honan said.

This Making it Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland