Teeside meat firm to add 18 jobs as it invests millions

Teesside meat processor and wholesaler Country Valley Foods (CVF) is to create 18 jobs and safeguard 18 more amid a £2 million investment, which includes a £1m fit-out and £200,000 spent on butchery equipment.

Nine new employees have already been taken on, bringing the workforce at the site up to 85. New equipment for the business includes a packaging machine, burger machine and refrigeration system.

The investment was topped up by a £185,000 grant from the Let’s Grow Fund, which is a £60m Regional Growth Fund project. It is administered by the BE Group in partnership with accountancy firm UNW and The Journal and Gazette and supports growth and job creation among small-to-medium-sized enterprises in the north east.

The money played a key role in buying and redeveloping land next to Country Valley Foods 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 meat processing and cutting plant. The factory features a Himalayan rock salt maturation chill facility, separate red meat and chicken cutting areas, plus separation for its raw meat processing including burgers and sausage.

Country Valley Foods 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.

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

“Without the Let’s Grow grant, the Billingham project would have taken much longer to complete,” said chairman Stewart Munro, who co-founded Country Valley Foods in 1971. “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.”

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