28th September 2016

Country Valley Foods boosts workforce and turnover in major expansion

Teesside meat processors and wholesalers Country Valley Foods has increased its workforce and turnover since securing £185,000 from the Let’s Grow Fund to invest in new premises and equipment.

Let’s Grow, which is a £60 million Regional Growth Fund project administered by the BE Group in partnership with UNW and The Journal and Evening Gazette, supports SME growth and job creation in the North East.

The company, which supplies food to businesses across the North of England including retailers, hotels, restaurants, healthcare providers and food manufacturers, was approved for the grant in December 2014.

The grant was used as part of a total £2 million investment by Country Valley Foods in redeveloping and refitting its site, with an additional £600,000 property, a £1 million fit-out and £200,000 of butchery equipment including a packaging machine, burger machine and refrigeration system. The project is set to create a total of 18 new jobs and safeguard 18 positions. Nine new employees have already been taken on, bringing the workforce at the site up to 85.

The business is now expecting to record a £20 million turnover in the current financial year, rising to £25 million in the next two years.

Country Valley Foods drew down its Let’s Grow funding in two tranches, the second of which was paid out in January this year. The money played a key role in buying and redeveloping land next to its existing base in Leeholme Road in Billingham and bringing the two facilities together, using more efficient equipment.

As a result of the grant, the company has introduced a state of the art meat processing and cutting plant, with a Himalayan rock salt maturation chill facility, separate red meat and chicken cutting areas.

Country Valley Food has been able to grow its customer base by increasing its product range, which now includes fresh meat and poultry, bacon and cooked meats, frozen vegetables, pies and pastries, dried goods, canned goods and soft drinks. Let’s Grow made the expansion feasible because it allowed the company to carry out the work as one project rather than in stages.

Chairman Stewart Munro, who co-founded Country Valley Foods in 1971, said: “The grant process was very straightforward and everyone involved was extremely helpful in assisting us in achieving our vision.

“Without the Let’s Grow grant, the Billingham project would have taken much longer to complete – it enabled us to progress and complete the project in one go, rather than in stages as and when we could afford to.”

Neville Bearpark, who leads the UNW grants team, said: “Country Valley Foods had a great vision for the expansion of the business and it’s fantastic to see that coming to fruition with the support of Let’s Grow funding.

“The company is on course for further growth, bringing more jobs and income into the North East economy. This is a perfect example of how projects such as Let’s Grow can make a real difference, not only to the individual business, but to the wider North East.”

Simon Allen, project manager for Let’s Grow, said: “The progress Country Valley Foods has made since receiving the grant demonstrates that Let’s Grow continues to achieve its objective of helping to build stronger, more sustainable businesses and it’s great to see it go from strength to strength in this way.”

UNW was instrumental in setting up the Let’s Grow Fund in 2013 and since then continues to appraise all Let’s Grow applicants.

Photo: Front, l-r: Rajan and Anjali Malhotra, Marjorie Ridgway / Back, l-r: Alan Suggett, Karen Simms, Amanda Maskery, Paul Graham

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