Heather Mills blames ‘corporate greed’ as vegan empire crumbles

Heather Mills

Some 24 jobs have been lost at a manufacturer and wholesaler of plant-based meat and cheese set up by former model-turned-entrepreneur Heather Mills after administrators were called in.

James Clark and Howard Smith from Interpath Advisory were appointed joint administrators to VBites Foods Limited on Monday (11 December).

Founded in 1993, VBites operates from two manufacturing sites in Peterlee, County Durham, and Corby, Northamptonshire.

In a statement, Mills said: “It’s with great sadness that I announce that after 30 years of pioneering plant-based production and innovation, VBites Foods Ltd, a company very dear to my heart, is entering into administration this week.

“Although I offered every solution I feasibly could to keep it going, sadly, VBites ultimately fell victim to the galvanised misinformation currently being undertaken by the meat and dairy industries as well as corporate greed in our market.”

The administrators said the company had recently seen increased pressure on cashflow due to the impact of rising raw material costs and energy prices, as well as a softening of consumer demand for alternative protein products in the wake of the cost-of-living crisis.

The directors sought to explore their options, including making attempts to secure additional funding. However, a funding agreement was unable to be reached, leaving the directors with no option but to seek the appointment of administrators.

The joint administrators say they will continue to trade the site in Peterlee while they seek a buyer for the business and its assets. Consequently, 29 members of staff based at the Peterlee site have been retained by the joint administrators to assist them with trading.

The joint administrators have also retained 25 employees at the site in Corby to assist with the fulfilment of outstanding orders. However, 24 employees across the business have been made redundant.

Clark said: “VBites is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of vegan food products but unfortunately, and in common with many other companies across the food manufacturing sector, had seen trading impacted by rising commodity and energy prices.

“Our immediate priority is to provide support and assistance to those employees impacted by redundancy, as well as seeking a buyer for the business and its assets. We would encourage any interested parties to make contact with us at the earliest opportunity.”

In July of this year, the manufacturing plant of Plant & Bean in Boston, Lincolnshire was sold by administrators from Interpath to Vegan Solo Consulting (Vegan Solo) and Duo Renovations Ltd (DRL).

Vegan Solo specialises in the production of meat-free products and is run by Mills, the former partner of Paul McCartney and a leading champion for the vegan movement.