Rising bills and costs have forced a juice-making business to close its doors after 50 years, the owner confirmed. 

Hill Farm Juice has been based in Swanmore since its founding in the 1970s, and has been managed by its current owner for 11 years.

In 2020, the business sold its 100-acre orchard at Hill Farm to Hillier Trees as part of a £1.5m deal. Following this, Hill Farm Juice started importing apples from other local suppliers.

On Friday, March 15, the business confirmed this year would be its last, with five people to lose their jobs.

Will Dobson, the owner of Hill Farm Juice, said the closure was due to rising costs making the business no longer economically viable.

The 46-year-old told the Chronicle: “It’s unfortunate that prices and costs have got unsustainable I’m afraid.

Hampshire Chronicle: Will DobsonWill Dobson (Image: Will Dobson)

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“Our electricity has gone up by about 300 per cent. It is not long ago that we were running at probably £250 electricity and now we’re £750 plus. The stupid thing is, it’s the business rates which have gone up, but for businesses, it’s the standard charge which is the killer.

“And they’ve increased the minimum wage, which is all well and good, but giving a 10 per cent pay rise to one group then causes a knock-on effect elsewhere.”

While Mr Dobson said the business would be winding down over the summer, selling its remaining stock on a first-come, first-served basis, he does not know how long it will last, saying that the business has about 12,000 litres of juice left to bottle.

He also expressed his hope that someone might take over the brand.

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Hampshire Chronicle: The Hill Farm Juices teamThe Hill Farm Juices team (Image: Will Dobson)

Mr Dobson continued: “I am going to miss the interaction with people. We are a small team, so I’m going to miss them, and I’m going to miss the customers. Speaking with them really showed me how much I learnt during my time in this business.

“We also looked after the kids at Wicor Primary School for a few years, teaching them about apples and what we do, and I hope that someone will take up that baton and keep on with their education in the area.”

Mr Dobson said that, after the closure of the business, he will be taking some time to think through his next steps. He said “If I went back to when I was in school, I don’t think I would have imagined myself in this role.

“I’ve done a lot of different things during my life. Maybe I will do something with spirits, maybe I’ll do something else.”