Entrepreneur, athlete, and advocate Heather Mills has revealed that the former Walkers Crisps factory she bought to use to make her VBites vegan food will open for business within the next three months.
Mills purchased the 180,000 sq foot factory in Peterlee in November. Since then she’s been working to hire staff and make the facility ready to manufacture VBites’ new range of vegan sausages and burgers.
Mills hopes to hire around 300 workers for the facility – welcome news for the area, after 350 jobs were lost when the factory was shut by previous owners PepsiCo in 2017. She has already hired six former workers from Walkers, including the former Walkers’ factory manager who was now the new factory manager for VBites.
“It’s been quite a journey to get here and it’s a very exciting time for us now,” Mills said in a statement sent to Plant Based News. “I’ve been delighted to see some of the former workers at Walkers take up new positions with us already. We have some good people in place at Peterlee and we’re looking for more.
“There will be office and factory positions for apprentices and also for older people who are experienced. I value their experience.”
Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, added: “This is really exciting news and it’s particularly encouraging to see that there will now be more than 300 job opportunities created at the old Walkers site in the near future. We’re thrilled that Heather Mills is choosing to bring jobs back here to the North East and making the most of our talented workforce.”
In addition, Mills will also allow smaller plant-based producers to use VBites’ factories for manufacture and distribution across the world, under her VBites Ventures initiative.
“It helps people move onto the next step when otherwise they would have to take a giant leap in order to manufacture and distribute,” she said. “I hope to open a factory one day which will be full of these incubator businesses. This could also be in the North East.”