Hazeldene £1.7m factory expansion to create 25 jobs

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Ball: £1.7m investment
Ball: £1.7m investment

Related tags: New product development, The co-operative group

Prepared salad maker Hazeldene is pumping £1.7m into an expansion project at its Wigan factory that will involve two new production lines and create 25 jobs.

The expansion, due to be completed by May to fit in with the start of the summer salad season, will bring the total number of production lines to 10, md Simon Ball told FoodManufacture.co.uk.

“Since our move to Wigan, we have increased our sales over five years by 176%, but we need more capacity. The pinchpoint has been in packing, so we're adding two bagging lines."

Breaking new ground in fresh salads

While it was operating in a highly competitive environment and the rise in VAT on fuel would increase distribution costs this year, Hazeldene has stayed ahead of the game through working closely with customers, ​he said.

Rather than presenting customers with salad leaf varieties developed by seed companies, for example, Hazeldene had worked backwards, starting with customers and looking at consumer benefits and then feeding back ideas to seed firms and growing samples for customers to evaluate, he said.

"We've brought growers, seed houses, development chefs, new product development managers and buyers together to share information and develop new ideas."

Operational efficiency

Hazeldene, which is a subsidiary of William Jackson Food Group, has significantly increased operational and supply chain efficiency over the past year, reducing its labour costs (as a percentage of sales), waste, giveaway, distribution costs and energy consumption.

It has also invested in new scales, a centrifuge drier and a bag maker over the past 18 months and worked closely with a retail customer to set the standard for validation and verification techniques for fresh produce sanitisation.

Keeping it local

The £30m turnover firm, which supplies customers including Subway, Greggs, Spar, Iceland and the Co-op Group with ready-to-eat leafy salads, sliced products and sandwich vegetables for prepared salads, sandwiches, wraps and stir-fries, was a finalist​ in three categories at last year’s Food Manufacturing Excellence Awards.

72% of Hazelden’s leaf is sourced locally (within 20 miles of Wigan) during the summer, while 80% of the winter leaf is grown in the Spanish region of Murcia.

Related topics: Fresh produce

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