Heather Mills' Vbites hit back at Peterlee factory closure rumours and say firm wants to 'scale up' after lockdown

A vegan burger factory run by the food firm set up by Heather Mills is looking at when to bring back staff from furlough.

Friday, 3rd July 2020, 10:03 am

Rumours had been circulating that the plant, set up in the former Walkers crisp factory on Stephenson Road in Peterlee, had closed down.

But Vbites has hit back and said its owner has ‘put millions into the plant’ without support from the Government or banks, with its bosses looking into bringing its staff back from furlough as restaurants begin to reopen after the coronavirus lockdown.

The North East Industrial Estate site produces burgers for the company, which has its own line of products, and makes food on behalf of other brands and pub chains and restaurants.

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Heather Mills set up Vbites food factory to make vegan foods.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Peterlee was bought and heavily invested in to bring employment to the North East to scale for the vegan plant-based food industry.

“The owner has put millions into the plant with no support from the Government or the banks

“Because of Covid-19 and the fact Peterlee was for foodservice restaurants, it is currently in furlough.

“As soon as the restaurants open we will be re-evaluating the situation.

Vbites is based in Stephenson Road, Peterlee. Picture by Frank Reid

“However the other factory in Newcastle is still delivering dairy-free products for Domino’s Pizza, Birdseye, Scandinavia and Asda and many other supermarkets, and our other factory is still delivering meat fish-free products to the retail supermarkets to feed the community.

“We still wish to scale up in the North East and do everything we can, even though advised against it the owner is putting everything into making this happen.”

She said it was destined to “be a vegan burger capital” as well as make vegan fishsteaks, buying the factory site from PepsiCo after Walkers moved out in December 2017.

Vbites took over the former Walkers factory after owners PepsiCo sold the site.

The company also took on the former Coty factory site in Seaton Delaval, turning it into Plant Base Valley, a hub for other vegan businesses, as well as a base for her own line.

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