Premier Foods to add 80 jobs as £20m Mr Kipling production line opens

Picture: David Parry/PA
Picture: David Parry/PA
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A new £20m hi-tech production line at the Mr Kipling bakery in Barnsley is set to add 80 jobs to town.

Premier Foods, owner of the sector-leading cake brand, officially opened the bakery expansion in Carlton this morning.

The state-of-the-art facility will produce 300 million Mr Kipling snack pack cake slices a year, Premier Foods chief executive Gavin Darby said.

This more than doubles the company’s capacity for individual cakes, with its existing snack pack line in Stoke producing 240 million annually.

Some of Mr Kipling’s best-known products have been manufactured in Carlton since 1975, including its battenberg cake and fondant fancies.

The currently employs 750 full-time staff - rising to 1,500 seasonally. A further 80 full-time skilled jobs will be added over the next two years.

Mr Darby told The Yorkshire Post that the investment is a “huge vote of confidence” in the region.

He said: “£20m is a large amount of money. We chose to spend our it here because we’ve got a good, loyal, committed workforce and we knew they could step up to the plate.”

The production line is uses advanced technology and robotics, requiring highly-skilled workers, he said.

“Because it’s such a hi-tech line, they are disproportionately skilled jobs,” Mr Darby said.

“That’s what we all want; we want to be employing more people, but it’s even more exciting we’re employing people with a good and high level of technical skill.”

Earlier this year, Premier Foods committed to doubling the number of apprentices in the company and invested in a refurbished training centre in Carlton, the largest of its three bakeries.

The cake sector is worth around £1bn in the UK, of which Mr Kipling has around 17 per cent. Mr Kipling is Premier Foods’ largest brand, accounting for just under a fifth of its £683.7m branded sales.

Elizabeth Truss, secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, attended the launch and met some of Premier Foods’ recently-recruited apprentices.

She said: “Our food manufacturing sector is bigger than cars and aerospace combined, generating over £100 billion for the economy. Iconic British brands like Mr. Kipling are key to its success.

“The new line is not only a boost to Yorkshire‟s economy but will also ensure our UK farmers and producers‟ benefit from the company‟s commitment to source the majority of its ingredients from British suppliers.”