Food producer set to bounce back with 65 new jobs and £2m investment

Peter Allan and Red Recruitment 24:7 client relationship manager Paul Bowring
X The Business Desk

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Bosses at a North Lincolnshire food producer are have made a £2m investment and are set to create around 65 jobs – after laying off around 100 staff last year.

Managing director Peter Allan said the Scunthorpe soups and sauces maker – formerly TSC Foods and now rebranded Billington Foods – is “cautiously confident” as it charts its recovery after Covid-19 lockdowns saw sales plummet, forcing the Arkwright Road factory to shed workers.

The well-known Billington Group producer of Glorious soups and popular branded sauces, traditionally employs about 430 people in Scunthorpe. But the knock-on effect of the coronavirus pandemic on its retail, food service and business-to-business customers hit its fortunes.

However, the company ultimately halved the 200 redundancies announced over a year ago. Now more orders are flowing in. Billington Foods, which has a sister company in Wellingborough in Northamptonshire says it is bouncing back and is working with long-time staff supplier Red Recruitment to help the company’s workforce of about 340 gradually return to full strength.

Allan said: “The pandemic and consequent Government’s lockdowns created an incredibly challenging period for us and our customers. It is always devastating when you must make people redundant. Thankfully, in the end we didn’t have to let as many go as originally expected.

“Together with our sister business, we supply supermarkets and other retailers; our food service customers include pubs, restaurants and ‘food to go’ outlets and our B2B customers include ready meals producers. All were affected by the pandemic in varying degrees.

“We normally have annual sales of about £50 million. That figure was practically halved with so many of our customers unable to trade normally over the past year, although there was the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. Now our sales are heading back towards the forty-million-pound mark.

“Our order books are looking very good, and we are in a much stronger position as we near the completion of a major investment in our processes and people.”

The past few months have seen the modernisation of production lines, a review of product pricing to ensure competitiveness, as well as staff remuneration and incentives. Billington Foods is also introducing more training for production and warehouse operatives and a new canteen will be ready for use next year.

“Excitingly, a new apprenticeship scheme has been drawn-up with a professional industry trainer. This went live this month and we are confident it will encourage more people to look at careers within food manufacturing,” added Allan.

Red Recruitment is headquartered in Lincoln, with a regional office in Scunthorpe. Staff have worked closely with the former TSC Foods for many years.

Managing director Mark Morley said: “We are delighted to hear that the company has been investing during such a tough period and that sales are moving in the right direction once more.

“We are always talking to the firm’s managers and actively working to help them to both fill new vacancies and potentially move temporary placements into permanent roles.”