The facility was formerly a Walkers Crisps factory that closed in 2017, with the loss of more than 350 jobs. Mills took over the site in November 2018 for her VBites business, which specialises in vegan sausages and burgers.
Mills has hired six former Walkers Crisps employees and plans to hire more than 300 staff for the site.
“It has been quite a journey to get here and it’s a very exciting time for us now,” said Mills. “I’ve been delighted to see some of the former workers at Walkers take up new positions with us already. We have some good people in place at Peterlee and we’re looking for more.
“There will be office and factory positions for apprentices and also for older people who are experienced. I value their experience.”
Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, added: “This is really exciting news and it’s particularly encouraging to see that there will now be more than 300 job opportunities created at the old Walkers site in the near future. We’re thrilled that Heather Mills is choosing to bring jobs back here to the north east and making the most of our talented workforce.”
Mills added that her VBites Ventures project, which allows smaller plant-based producers to use VBites’ factories for manufacture and distribution across the world, could expand. “It helps people move on to the next step when, otherwise, they would have to take a giant leap in order to manufacture and distribute. I hope to open a factory one day which will be full of these incubator businesses. This could also be in the north east.”
Mills is set to be keynote speaker at GlobalMeatNews’ The Future of Plant-Based Proteins Conference in Amsterdam on 26 June. For more information and to book tickets, click here.