Heather Mills to reopen axed Walkers crisps factory in Peterlee
Former model Heather Mills has revealed she has bought the former Walkers crisp factory in Peterlee.
The ex-wife of Paul McCartney, said the factory will be used to expand her vegan food range.
Heather told ITV's This Morning that she has bought the factory on the town's North West Industrial Estate to help bring jobs back to the region.
Born and raised in Washington, Heather said she found her friend had been left out of work by the closure of the factory, which shut up shop in December 2017 and she is trying to encourage supermarkers to buy British.
Heather said: "The manufacturers are leaving for Germany left, right and centre.
"I go back to my home town, I am about to buy a factory in Austria, and I find my friend's lost their job so I bought the Walkers crisp factory and then bring all the jobs back again.
The 50-year-old, who lost her lower leg after being hit by a motorbike, is passionate about leading a vegan lifestyle and owns her own brand Vbites.
A 100% meat free company produces 104 products and distributes in 25 countries. The company has two factories, one in Corby and one in Benton, near Newcastle, and the one in Peterlee is set to be the third.
Heather is hoping to open the factory in November initially employing 130 people, but believes this could rise to 255 or even more as VBites gains prominence in major supermarkets.
This will be good news to workers in the region who were left unemployed by the closure of the Walkers crisp factory, which shut after 50 years of crisp production.
Walkers workers had been due to be made redundant on New Year’s Eve last year, but production at the factory, which made lines including Crinkles, Walkers Sensations, Scampi Fries, Bacon Fries, Cheese Moments and Cheetos Twisted stopped a week ahead of schedule.
Pepsico, which owned the Walkers factory, said the decision to close it was not a reflection of its workforce - which had included families who had dedicated decades of work to the firm - but was taken as it looked to make “productivity and efficiency savings crucial for ensuring the long-term sustainable growth of our business in the UK.”
The GMB union, which represented staff, said the said the move was a “massive blow” for the town with the company putting profit before people.