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Sunderland firm has a lot of bottle

Mark Potts and Martin Thornton of Contract Bottling with Cllr Harry Trueman of Sunderland City Council. Credit: Contract Bottling Ltd

Sunderland firm Contract Bottling Ltd has announced that it has doubled its workforce and now plans to expand even further having invested over £2m in equipment since 2012, producing record sales for the company.

Full-time employee numbers have risen from 30 to 60, and the numbers of bottles produced by the plant has grown from 15 million to 52 million in the last two years.

The company’s turnover has also grown from under £6m to over £10.6m.

Contract Bottling is now looking to expand its plant in Riverside Road in 2015.

The firm makes, fills and bottles a wide range of flavoured and natural spring waters and soft drinks for its customers, which include national supermarket chains and cash and carry operators.

It also produces over 4,000 pallets of cordial which are shipped out to Saudi Arabia each year in glass bottles as a premium product.

It’s great news that a Sunderland-based company is leading the UK, and thriving from its base in the city. Contract Bottling Ltd should be congratulated for the commitment and passion of its staff which have won it loyal customers and unprecedented soft drinks sales this year. It’s even better news that the company is aiming to expand, to create more job opportunities and productivity in the city.”

– Cllr Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader, Sunderland City Council

Harvest mouse numbers 'on the rise' in the North East

Harvest Mouse Credit: Amy Lewis, The Wildlife Trust

A rare rodent has seen a resurgence in numbers in the North East after more sightings were made than in the previous 100 years.

The harvest mouse is seldom seen in the region, but a recent survey by the Durham Wildlife Trust recoded nine new sightings.

This was more than was seen in the whole of the 20th century and the first in Teesdale for 40 years.

A national survey in the 1970s reported only a handful of harvest mouse records in the North East and there have been very few since. These new records represent more than were reported in County Durham during the whole of the 20th century."

– Vivien Kent, Durham Wildlife Trust

Research by Northumbria Mammal Group over the past decade changed our view of harvest mice in the North East by indicating that they seem to be quite widely distributed across the Tees Valley. However, this survey has revised that picture again with new records showing that they are also present across East Durham, with isolated records in Teesdale and Upper Weardale suggesting that they might be much more widespread than anyone had imagined."

– Ian Bond, Northumbria Mammal Group


Concern over missing Sunderland student

Police are trying to find a Sunderland student who hasn't been seen since last night. Sophie Dalrymple, 20, was in Sunderland with friends but left them around midnight. She has not been seen since and her friends, and police, have been unable to contact her.

Police are becoming concerned for her welfare and are talking to her family and friends. Sophie is from Gretna in Scotland but is currently studying at Sunderland University.

Sophie Dalrymple Credit: Northumbria Police

More visitors attracted to the region in year of Grand Depart

The North East had an 8% growth (372,000 people) in visitors in 2014. There was also a 3% rise in spending - £181m.

A VisitBritain report revealed more international tourists began travelling across the country than ever before.

It's thought the Tour de France played a part in the record number of visitors to Yorkshire last year (12%, reaching a new record of 1.08 million). London saw a rise of 6%.

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