Reading Time: 2 minutes Entrepreneur Heather Mills
Reading Time: 2 minutes

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.

Vegan journey

“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.”

Vegan businesses

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.

The entrepreneur has invested in multiple businesses already – including LoveSeitan and One Planet Pizza under the scheme.

“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.”

Maria Chiorando

Maria is a news and features writer for Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. She was previously the editor of Plant Based News for over 3 years.