23 Sep Pasta Foods chief pledges to remain in Great Yarmouth – and will invest further
The new managing-director of Pasta Foods has given a clear assurance that the company intends to stay in Great Yarmouth – and further invest in its Pasteur Road site.
Gordon Chetwood, 50, the former manufacturing director at Kinnerton Confectionery in Fakenham, said he wanted to put a final end to rumours that the snacks and pasta manufacturer’s long-term strategy was to end a 50-year association with Yarmouth and focus on its new Norwich factory.
He said potato and pulse snacks were “a hugely important part of the business” and the four lines that produced them were all in Yarmouth.
Meanwhile, the aim of their £8m investment in the former Uniglaze factory in New Costessey was “all about growing our pasta business”.
One pasta line in Norwich had started production in April – adding to the two in Yarmouth – but there was potential to put in an extra two or more to meet the needs of future capacity.
Praising the loyalty and, in many cases, long service of the staff in Yarmouth, Mr Chetwood said: “Our proposal to develop land next to the factory into a retail park is about having money available to re-invest into our Yarmouth site.”
One scheme for an edge of town development, which would have brought seven new shops, a restaurant and drive-through takeaway, was rejected by the planning authority last year following an outcry that it would destroy Yarmouth’s main retail centre.
However, Mr Chetwood said they were currently in discussion with planners over revised plans.
“We are very keen to get support from the borough council for planning permission,” he said.
Realising the scheme would enable them to push ahead with Yarmouth improvements at a faster pace, he added.
He said: “We have got space we can develop inside our Pasteur Road factory. Our plans are to reinvest into our snacks production there.”
Mr Chetwood said they had made 15 staff in Yarmouth redundant recently as a result of restructuring outdated shift patterns to bring them in line with modern manufacturing.
Father of two Mr Chetwood, who lives in Dereham, praised the support of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership in helping them acquire the Norwich plant with an initial bridging loan – quickly repaid – and a further £750,000 loan to assist with set up costs. “We have only needed to take a small part of that extra money,” he said.
The Norwich factory was currently running with 23 staff – a mix of new employees and experienced operators transfered from Yarmouth – but that number would grow over the next five years as pasta production increased.
This article was provided by Great Yarmouth Mercury http://www.greatyarmouthmercury.co.uk/