Commenting on the acquisition of the 35,767.6m2 Seaton Delavel site, Mills said: “This is now my third factory purchase in the north-east to help bring more employment and expand the plant-based meat, fish and allergen-free dairy alternative industry, as well as micro algae and vegan make-up.
“This recent purchase of a factory that has been sitting empty for nearly two years will mean it will bring more jobs to the region and we can incubate all of our VBites Ventures investments to help them scale up, manufacture, distribute and sell in 24 countries around the world.”
Potential £6m cost
Mills’ interest in the site was revealed by Blyth MP Ronnie Campbell during a visit to the House of Commons earlier this year. Campbell speculated the cost of getting the factory up and running and fitting it out with new machinery would set the VBites owner back a total of £6m.
However, if successful, the reopening of the factory could lead to the creation of up to 600 jobs, with the potential for space at the site for five or six start-up businesses to operate. This, in turn, could see 1,000 new roles created at the former Coty factory.
Mills added: “I would like to thank the local MP Ronnie Campbell for helping facilitate and support us in this purchase, as well as Lisa Harwood and Coty’s Luc Volatier.”
Former Walkers Crisps site
The purchase comes after Mills announced her Peterlee site, formerly a Walkers Crisps factory that closed in 2017, would be up and running within the next three months. Mills has hired six former Walkers Crisps employees and plans to hire more than 300 staff for the site.
Meanwhile, the entrepreneur behind the world’s first vegan football club has opened a plant-based food business to tap into the £1bn-plus UK school dinners market.