Production has started again at Cadbury Trebor Bassett’s Monkhill confectionery factory in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, two years after it was gutted by fire.
At 5,000m2, the £80M new facility is Europe’s biggest popcorn plant and one of the UK's largest food factories, producing Butterkist branded and own-label popcorn for cinemas and retailers, chocolate-covered sweets and sugar confectionery.
A wholly owned subsidiary of Cadbury, Monkhill operates four manufacturing plants in Pontefract, York, Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire and Leeds, along with a depot at Holmewood, near Sheffield.
Monkhill, which turned over £80M in 2005, was put up for sale last April. The disposal is part of a radical restructuring programme at Cadbury that will see the closure of 10 factories and a 15% headcount reduction.
Operations director Pete Sanders said: “After the fire, which struck on June 8, 2005, production of most lines at Pontefract was quickly transferred to other sites. We did inevitably lose some business, but we are confident of winning it back now the new site is operational.”
Immediately after the fire, permanent staff at Pontefract were transferred to the other Monkhill sites, while temporary staff were laid off, said Sanders. “We immediately engaged with building contractors and the contract was put out to tender to rebuild the factory. The first products are now coming off the production line there and we’ll be ramping production up progressively over the next two to three months. That’s pretty impressive for a project of this size from a standing start in October 2005. Something of this scale would typically take three years.”