THE Forfar factory operated by AG Barr has been included in a major investment programme announced by the Cumbernauld-based soft-drinks manufacturer.

Barr Soft Drinks acquired the Strathmore Spring Water brand in 2006 and last hit the headlines in November 2008 when it announced it was reducing staff numbers at the Forfar and Ballindarg sites by 10 out of 63 staff across the manufacturing and distribution sites.

At the weekend it was revealed in a Sunday newspaper that Roger White, chief executive of Irn-Bru maker AG Barr, is to double investment in the business this year to spearhead an attack on the English fizzy drinks market.

On the back of strong sales in 2009, White stated he will inject more than 10 million into the factory in Cumbernauld, hire more staff in sales, marketing and distribution and boost its marketing spread.

He stated there was a "huge opportunity" to grow Irn-Bru and the Barr brand, as well as the Rubicon juice brand (acquired by AG Barr in 2008 for 60m), in England, Wales and Ireland, as well as in Scotland.

He said: "We have to invest to do that, whether it is in assets, in distribution and logistics infrastructure or people and brand development, or whether it is marketing spend or investment in the trade end of things.

"Those are all things we are going to step up this year at a time when a lot of people are cutting back."

The investment in Cumbernauld depends on the successful completion of negotiations with staff at the firm's site at Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, which is being closed with the loss of 100 jobs.

At the time of going to press on Tuesday (yesterday), the company stressed the proposed investment programme would have no adverse effect on production at Forfar.

On the contrary, an investment of 60,000 at the Forfar plant has been revealed..

An AG Barr spokesperson said: "The announcement in November last year of our proposal to close our Mansfield site has no effect on production at Strathmore.

"AG Barr continues to invest in production capability and site facilities at our Forfar factory. Within the next two months we will invest 60,000 in the first phase of a two-phase plan to replace the roof at the site."

It was in May 2006 that Irn Bru maker A.G. Barr bought over Strathmore Mineral Water Company in a 15 million deal.

The Glasgow fizzy-drinks manufacturer purchased the market-leading Forfar business from U.S.-based Constellation Brands.

At that time Barr bosses promised it would be "business as usual" at the West High Street factory, where investment over a number of years had resulted in the company becoming one of the U.K.'s leading bottled water brands.

At the time of the take-over, Roger White said Barr intended to continue investment in the brand's on-trade development but also pursue other channels.

At the time he said: "We believe it has exceptional potential for further growth in today's market and we are very much looking forward to rolling out a dynamic investment programme for its development in the months and years ahead.

"As a company responsible for some of the soft drink industry's most iconic and effective brand marketing, Barr will also be investing in growing Strathmore's equity with customers."