Clipper Tea factory expansion could double workforce in five years

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Clipper Tea's factory expansion in Beaminster could create 120 jobs
Clipper Tea's factory expansion in Beaminster could create 120 jobs

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Clipper Tea is to expand its Beaminster factory, with the potential to double its workforce in the next five years, after securing permission from West Dorset District Council.

Wessanen UK, owner of Clipper Tea, is to extend and consolidate its factory on the south side of its site on Broadwindsor Road.

Operations director at Wessanen UK Mark Bagwell said: “We are obviously delighted to have received planning permission to proceed with our exciting production expansion plans.

“Demolition of the existing offices on the south side of the site is scheduled to begin in March of this year ​[2017], with the extension to production to follow straight after.”

Three new tea-bagging machines have been commissioned to support the growth of both Clipper and other Wessanen tea brands in Europe, said Bagwell.

Double the workforce

West Dorset District Council case officer Andrew Martin said the immediate economic benefit of the proposed development would be to secure the existing 80 jobs on site, with the potential to double the workforce within five years.

Clipper has also received outline planning permission to demolish its current buildings on the north side of its site and develop 45 homes, including affordable housing provision.

“Our plan is to fully occupy the new build by the end of 2017 and therefore to have completely vacated the north side of the site,”​ added Bagwell.

Martin explained that if planning permission had not been granted, it would mean no further investment in the existing site and possible closure of all activity within three to five years.

Loss of all existing jobs

This would have led to the loss of all existing jobs and a further 50 in the local supply chain. It would amount to a total loss to the local economy of £21M a year, he said.

Established in 1984, Clipper Tea produces a range of hot drinks – including tea, coffee and hot chocolate – using natural and Fairtrade ingredients.

The company was awarded Beverage manufacturing company of the year at the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards (FMEAs) in November last year. Read more detail in the box below.

To be in for a chance of your company winning an FMEA, sign up for this year’s event​ at the London Hilton Park Lane on November 1.

Meanwhile, up to 40 jobs are to be created at sauce and marinade manufacturer BD Foods, as the firm moves into a custom-­built factory in St Leonards, Hastings.

Clipper Tea wins beverage manufacturing Oscar

Clipper Tea was awarded the FMEA for Beverage manufacturing company of the year, fighting off stiff competition from Aston Manor Cider, Coca­-Cola European Partners and Solution Sciences (What a Melon)

The firm was recognised for its export success – selling to more than 50 countries worldwide – and ruthless cost control.

Judges praised its imaginative use of biothermic digester to remove tea waste. One judge remarked: “It’s a really good example of a relatively­-small business that is succeeding in a tough marketand is obviously well-­placed to thrive after Brexit.”

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