THE Grimsby Telegraph can reveal that a seafood processing plant being opened by Morrisons in Grimsby is likely to create up to 500 new jobs.
The UK’s fourth largest food retailer, which has more than 450 branches nationwide, will take over the former Kwoks site on the town’s Europarc.
Bosses hope to produce 10,000 tonnes of seafood for the site every year, with production expected to start by the end of 2012.
The new plant will create more than 200 jobs in the coming months, with the potential for a further 200 to 300 positions to be created as the operation expands.
It could provide a lifeline for the 337 members of staff at ready-meal manufacturer Kerry Foods, whose jobs are under threat.
As reported, Kerry began a 90-day consultation with the entire workforce at its £15 million Europarc plant last month because of increasing competition and falling sales.
Councillor Chris Shaw, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said the Morrisons plant will create a “fantastic” jobs boost for the area, and is especially good news for those affected by the Kerry Foods consultation.
“I look forward to working with Morrisons to help boost employment prospects in the town,” he said.
“Hopefully this new processing plant will ease the issue of potential job losses at Kerry Foods and provide the potential for even more new jobs in the future.
“Phase one in the former Kwoks building will create 200 jobs and then Morrisons has aspirations to take over another premises on Europarc in the future.
“I am delighted that Morrisons can see that Europarc has a marvellous future as a hub for food production.”
Mr Shaw – who will meet with Morrisons bosses to discuss the plans later this week – added that he believes work on the new processing plant will begin “imminently”.
One Kerry Foods worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said:
“This is fantastic news, not just for people whose jobs are under threat, but North East Lincolnshire as a whole.
“The area desperately needs this sort of investment. This type of work supports many families in Grimsby.”
Another added: “We are still under consultation at Kerry, but the feeling is there’s little hope of a positive outcome.
“I would urge that those bringing this new development to Grimsby give the skilled Kerry workforce a chance at applying for the jobs it will bring.
“This could be some light at the end of the tunnel for a large group of hard-working people who have just one goal – to stay in employment.”
Last week, the Grimsby Telegraph reported how talks were underway with a major investor. Since then, negotiations have been ongoing and today, the deal was officially announced.
Minister for Cities Greg Clark MP, who visited the area last week, said: “Grimsby has been through tough times, but this news from Morrisons is a real vote of confidence in the economic future of the area.
“This investment reinforces Grimsby’s position as the heart of a vital cluster for the food processing industry, and will create valuable growth and jobs.”
Kwoks, an oriental ready-meal supplier to the supermarket industry, operated from the Europarc site for nine years but closed in September 2009 with the loss of 180 jobs.
The 33,000sq ft factory is built on a 1.8-acre plot, with a further two acres available for expansion.
Unlike its rivals, Morrisonssources and processes much of its own fresh products and has built up facilities in the UK.
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