Former model turned businesswoman Heather Mills has revealed plans to create hundreds of new North East jobs by turning the region into the “Silicon Valley” of vegan food.
More than 350 jobs were lost when PepsiCo closed the Walkers Snacks factory in Peterlee last year, moving work from the site to other bases around the UK.
Now the 180,000sqft factory is poised to be at the forefront of the growing vegan food movement, after Washington-born TV personality Ms Mills acquired the keys to the site and unveiled plans to bring manufacturing back.
The Former Journal columnist plans to create 300 jobs at the site, which will become the third VBites operation in the UK, joining sites in Corby, Northants and Benton, Newcastle, which employ around 140 people between them.
Responding to the announcement that businesswoman Heather Mills would be taking over the former Walkers Snacks factory in Peterlee, with her brand VBites, Brian Archer, managing director of Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham, said:
“We’re delighted to see that Heather has finally got the keys to the factory, particularly as we know how important it is to her to create jobs in her native North East. With a growing vegan food market, VBites is sure to excel from its latest site in East Durham.
“We were approached by VBites in December 2017 and the Business Durham team has been working with her closely ever since to explore local funding options and introduce her to the right people to expand her business networks; fit out the factory with specific production facilities and support her in her recruitment strategy. We look forward to offering our support further as the factory comes back to life again.”