Heather Mills has purchased a third factory for her vegan food company, VBites. The former Coty and Procter & Gamble site in Newcastle will now be used for her brand, after changing hands for an undisclosed sum of money.
“This is now my third factory purchase in the north-east to help bring more employment and expand the plant-based meat, fish and allergen-free dairy alternative industry, as well as micro algae and vegan make-up,” Mills said. “This recent purchase of a factory that has been sitting empty for nearly two years will mean it will bring more jobs to the region and we can incubate all of our VBites Ventures investments to help them scale up, manufacture, distribute and sell in 24 countries around the world.”
The Seaton Delavel site measures 35,767.6 square metres, and Mills has had her eye on it for some time. Blyth MP Ronnie Campbell let the cat out of the bag during a trip to the House of Commons earlier in 2019, when he gave speculation on the amount of money it was going to cost for Mills to get the factory set up with new machinery and ready to run. He estimated it at a total of £6 million, though the real figure has not been disclosed.
Should the factory successfully reopen after refurbishment, however, it will certainly be a big boost to the local area. It could create as much as 600 food jobs, many similar to those listed here.
Mills also said: “I would like to thank the local MP Ronnie Campbell for helping facilitate and support us in this purchase, as well as Lisa Harwood and Coty’s Luc Volatier.”
The space at the site could be used for between five and six start-up businesses, which will be given the opportunity to start launching their brand on a larger scale within the factory. This could create as much as 1,000 new roles, which is an amazing boost for the local area. If you want to be alerted when these jobs are available, make sure that you sign up for job notifications and read our advice here.
Mills also purchased a second factory last year, the Walkers Crisps site in Peterlee which had closed in 2017. She set about updating the site and making it ready for VBites products, and has recently announced that it will be open for business within the next three months.
The ambitious project saw her taking on six former employees from Walkers Crisps, who are already familiar with the site and the kind of procedures and strategies needed to run a high-volume facility of this sort. She also has plans to bring on more than 300 members of staff in the interim before opening in order to be able to begin production.
Plant-based business is on the up right now, with everything from football clubs to school dinners going vegan. It looks as though the green pound is not going anywhere, with entrepreneurs continuing to invest large amounts of money in entering the market or expanding meat-based businesses in a new direction.
Mills is clearly confident that VBites can be a dominant force in this market. It seems very brave to purchase and begin working on a third site before your second is even open – which speaks volumes as to the amount of interest that has been registered in the products that they plan to produce. Mills has also been busy with personal attendance at trade shows and other events to spread the word about her vegan message and brand.