A Bakkavör spokesman confirmed FoodManufacture.co.uk that the Icelandic food giant's plans – recently submitted to Sedgemoor District Council – for its Isleport Foods subsidiary involve building two large extensions to an existing site.
In its planning, design and access statement for Bakkavör, consultancy firm RPS Group said the extension to the main unit alone would increase factory space by 1,200m2, while a proposed goods-in extension would cover 690m2.
“In recent years, the existing facility has outgrown its capacity and operational efficiency requirements. So improvements are required to the existing buildings in order to provide for the growing levels of demand and necessary output, for the applicant’s [Bakkavör’s] range of produce.”
RPS said the proposed improvements “will not only benefit the applicant but the wider … area, given that it will not only secure the long term future of the existing jobs provided by the facility, but also create new employment opportunities”.
Where 153 staff now work at the site, RPS said that proposed staffing levels for 2012 - if expansion plans are implemented - would see 92 new jobs created across four departments: goods in and low risk, high risk, packing and despatch, office.
However, the Bakkavör spokesman said it was too early to confirm numbers. “The local council obviously came out and said ‘this is great’, based upon an number regarding possible jobs in the design plan. But there are still discussions ongoing regarding this at board level.”
Burnham on Sea and Highbridge town councillor Joe Leach said: “It’s obviously fantastic news for the town and for local industry and if there are new jobs involved it has to be a good thing.
“We’re either comfort eating or things [for the company] are going really, really well. Either way it’s good.”
“Highbridge especially has really taken a hit recently [due to the recession] but lately things have looked up, so hopefully we will start to see things recover now.”
The positive news comes after Unite criticised Bakkavör for proposing pay changes at its Spalding site in Lincolnshire earlier this month.
Constructed in 1998, the existing Isleport Foods site was bought by Geest in 2000, and was thereafter merged into the Bakkavör Group.