The outcome of the bid to the Regional Development Fund will be known by mid-September but Ellsey’s md, Shaun Roberts, believes his firm has a 90% chance of success as the expansion will create employment opportunites.
Roberts told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We’re looking at expanding our workforce by up to 20% over a long-term period. In addition to manufacturing roles, there will also be vacancies in sales and order processing.”
He estimates that the expansion will create up to 10 jobs and the new factory will be up and running by August 2013.
Generations of local families have worked for the firm, which is 80 years old. The trend is for staff to stay put once they’re in and some have been in their jobs for as long as 30 years.
The firm has seen annual growth levels of 10% and is now looking to expand its range.
When asked what the secret of his firm’s success was, Roberts said: “We’re the most efficient at what we do. And we’re keen on price.”
Ellsey’s currently supplies bulk containers of vinegar to around 600 trade customers in the food industry in the UK, Malta, Germany, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
It also supplies ready-meal manufacturers and manufacturers of pickles, preserves and chutneys.
One of Ellsey’s customers is an official supplier to the Olympics so its vinegar has been used to make balsamic sherry vinegars and red wine vinegars for the Olympic village.
Roberts confirmed that continued growth was the driver for the new factory but also said new premises would enable the factory to diversify and take vinegar into new areas.
Take vinegar seriously
“I don’t think people take vinegar seriously in this country,” said Roberts. “We want to change the perceptions of vinegar in the UK.”
Ellsey’s staff regularly travel to France, Holland, Italy and Spain to keep up to date with industry trends and changes.
Taking inspiration from the use of vinegar on mainland Europe, Roberts is looking to diversify by manufacturing sweet, fruit-based vinegars for salads and desserts.
He’s also looking at making a range of flavoured vinegars for chip shops, including garlic, chili and lemon. There will be six varieties of fruity dessert vinegars and quality balsamic vinegars, which will be pitched to retailers before the end of year.
“We will always take care of the business we already have but we feel that now is the right time to offer customers something different. We want to keep what we do fresh and interesting and flavoured vinegars are becoming more popular. We’re picking up new sales that way.”