AN EMPTY tea factory in North Tyneside is to be given a new lease of life – along with a massive jobs boost for the area.
Bournemouth-based Keith Spicers Ltd (Spicers), has bought the North Shields based Twining factory which closed last year – and the site on Earl Grey Way is now being prepared to meet the company’s demands with new machinery and equipment.
The firm, which is part of the larger international Harris Group and produces a range of speciality teas and own brand products for some of the largest retailers, has announced the move will create 75 jobs at the plant, with the hope of it rising to 150 at a later date.
North Tyneside Mayor Linda Arkley said: “This is great news for North Tyneside and the wider north east.
“I am delighted that such a prestigious company as Spicers have chosen North Tyneside to expand their production base in the UK.
“We have a very talented workforce here in North Tyneside and I am confident that Spicers will thrive in our borough and be a real driver to the economy of the north east.”
During a meeting with the company representatives at the site yesterday Mrs Arkley heard of the company’s plans from Spicer’s chief operating officer, Andy Pepper.
“We’re very excited to bring tea production back to Earl Grey Way,” he said.
“We are very much looking forward to establishing our second manufacturing site in the UK, here in North Shields.”
Mr Pepper added that staff numbers would be small at first but will increase as production ramps up to a three shift operation at the purpose built factory site.
Recruitment for key positions at the site has begun, with the aim of beginning prooduction before the end of the year.
North Tyneside Council is supporting the company in its recruitment and training needs in advance of the start on site.
It is also helping Spicers to explore alternative sources of energy for the site and to establish links with local suppliers to further boost the local economy.
An estimated 263 people from the North Shields factory were left seeking alternative employment when production was moved to Poland and China.
North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon said: “It is a good news story for North Tyneside.
“It is a shame that nothing happened when the people were still working in the factory, but it is absolutely great that the former factory is being reopened and reinvigorated.
“The fact that it is going to be open again is great news, because it was always an important place for employment in the local area and it is taking something that is not in use and putting it back in use.
“Hopefully anyone who was not able to find employment after the factory shut can do so now. I am really pleased that we can get another 150 jobs in North Tyneside and give people who aren’t working an opportunity.
“I will support the company in any way I can to make this new venture a success.”
Mrs Glindon will meet in Westminster next week for a full briefing on the situation.