Scunthorpe sauce and soup manufacturer Billington Foods is gearing up for growth again after sales were devastated by lockdown restrictions.
The business, formerly known as TSC Foods and the team behind the Glorious! brand, has invested £2 million and is now recruiting back two thirds of those it had to let go as revenues were slashed.
Traditionally an employer of around 430 people, it had announced 200 roles were to go as the pandemic bit, but managed to halve that number.
Now 65 vacancies re being opened to help build the 340-strong team back.
It comes on top of production line modernisation by the Liverpool-headquartered group that swooped for TSC seven years ago, buying it from equity house Key Capital Partners.
Managing director Peter Allan said he was “cautiously confident” as Billington charts its recovery at Scunthorpe, and a sister plant in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, after Covid-19 lockdowns saw sales plummet.
Retail, food service and business-to-business sales drops saw fortunes slide.
Mr 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 business-to-business 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.
“Now our sales are heading back towards the £40 million 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.”
Product pricing has been reviewed, so too staff wages 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.
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“Excitingly, a new apprenticeship scheme has been drawn-up with a professional industry trainer,” Mr Allan said. “This went live this month and we are confident it will encourage more people to look at careers within food manufacturing.”
Red Recruitment 24:7 is working with Billington on recruitment.
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.”