Countdown on as Heather Mills’ new V Bites factory in Peterlee gets set to start production

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The North East’s latest vegan food factory could start to go into production within six weeks.

Heather Mills has said work is under way to prep the former Walkers factory on Peterlee’s North West Industrial Estate to make her V Bites goods after the snack firm closed the site in December 2017 with the loss of 350 jobs.

The Washington-raised businesswoman has said it will employ between 200 and 400 people as it makes 140 products.

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Heather Mills.Heather Mills.
Heather Mills.

It supplies brands including Holland and Barratt and Greene King pubs, as well as ingredients used by restaurants, supermarkets and take aways.

It will join other factories including those in Benton in North Tyneside, Corby in Northamptonshire, and another in Austria.

She said the Jobcentre had been helping to fill roles and support had also been given by Business Durham, while Walkers’ owner Pepsi Co had contacted former staff to highlight job vacancies.

The 55 workers signed up so far are being trained at the sister site in the region, with machines on order to get the East Durham plant up and running.

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The former Walkers crisp factory in Peterlee.The former Walkers crisp factory in Peterlee.
The former Walkers crisp factory in Peterlee.

As recruitment continues, Heather has called on those with common sense and a will to graft to apply.

Heather, speaking as she was recognised by the annual Power Brands Global and London International Forum of Equality (LIFE) for her work to rebuild the lives of fellow amputees and fundraising, said her family-run firm had invested “millions and millions” into Peterlee site.

“We’ve just been training everybody up to get things into production and we’ve been doing a lot with the staff and apprentices” she added.

“In six weeks we want to star producing things and we’ve got to buy in a lot of procurement.

“There’s going to be a lot of jobs available.

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“We need people who think laterally and it doesn’t make a difference if you’re 60 and not worked for 20 years after having kids or whatever, we need people who think outside the box and are enthusiastic.”