Symington’s returns noodle making to UK from China, creating 50 jobs

By Lorraine Mullaney

- Last updated on GMT

Bringing noodles home. Symington’s decision to transfer noodle production from China to the UK will generate 50 jobs
Bringing noodles home. Symington’s decision to transfer noodle production from China to the UK will generate 50 jobs

Related tags New product development

About 50 new jobs will be created in Yorkshire when Symington’s transfers production of its noodles from China to the UK.

The manufacturer of classic brands such as Campbell’s, Chicken Tonight, Ragu and Aunt Bessies is setting up a new noodle manufacturing facility in Leeds that is set to open in August this year.

Symington’s director of business development Henrik Pade told  “I can confirm that we are working on a project to establish our own noodle production at a new facility here in Leeds.”

The company already produces noodles under the brands Naked Noodle, Golden Wonder – The Nation’s Noodle and Mug Shot.

It insourced the packaging of noodle pots from China to Leeds in 2008 but this is the first time the base production of noodles will be done in the UK. The manufacturing business will be taken away from two sites in China: one in the Guangzhou province, in the south of the country and one in Hangzhou in the east.

Shorter supply chain

Pade said the key driver for the move was securing a shorter supply chain, which would enable the firm to service retail customers more easily and respond to demands raised by promotions “and other changes” ​faster.

Industry commentator Julian Wild believed the move was cost-driven, particularly bearing in mind the current weak state of the pound, which is making imports a less attractive prospect for business.

Wild, food group director at legal firm Rollits, told “The pound is at such depressed levels it’s almost certainly having some effect on the decision. It’s good for exporters, but anybody importing volumes from outside the UK will be looking at their costs. Buying a commodity in from China will be expensive because you have to weigh up the lower cost of product out there against shipping costs.”

Wild predicted that the noodle production would be easily absorbed into the company’s business, which has expanded in recent years, thanks to the recent run of brand acquisitions by Symington’s.

“I expect the move is driven by the fact that Symington’s has several locations now so it has spare capacity. Pot noodles are an important product for the firm and its production could be absorbed into its existing business.” 

Chicken Tonight and Ragu

After acquiring the Unilever brands Chicken Tonight and Ragu​ in August 2011, Symington’s went on to bring Campbell’s condensed soups back to the UK market.

After its management buyout​ in June 2012, it acquired the family-owned baking business Victoria Foods​.

Last year was an innovative one for the company, which won four awards and launched The Little Curry Company and Ragu snack pots in November 2012.

Pade said: “We continue the same strategy, driven by new product development and adding value to grocery categories, and still see this as driving significant growth for us.”

Wild said: “They’re a very innovative business but I’d be surprised if they moved outside the grocery area. There’s plenty of scope for producing other long-life grocery goods.”

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