Abbeydale funding set to create new jobs

JOBS are expected to be created at a Yorkshire-based food company which has secured backing from a fund set up to encourage economic growth in the heartlands of the steel industry.

Abbeydale Food Group, a potato processor, has secured an investment worth £100,000 from UK Steel Enterprise to support product and process development at its site in Scunthorpe.

UK Steel Enterprise is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Steel.

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It provides business finance in amounts from £25,000 up to £750,000 to a wide variety of companies with the aim of encouraging business growth and job creation in areas affected by the downturn in the steel industry.

The Abbeydale Food Group is made up of Saxon Quality Foods and Chapel Foods, which is probably best known as the home of the company behind Denby Dale Pies, which were acquired in March 2011.

Most of the group’s operations are carried out at the Scunthorpe site, where Saxon Quality Foods makes a range of potato products including wedges, jackets and shells which are sold to major food manufacturers in the UK and Europe.

The products are sold through all the major UK grocery retailers and foodservice operators.

Andrew Hayes, the managing director of Abbeydale, said the investment from UK Steel Enterprise had come at a critical time.

He added: “The finance from UK Steel is absolutely vital to us right now as it will provide us with a platform for growth.

“We will be using the investment to develop new products, enhance processes and improve the fabric of the operations in Scunthorpe.

“We have taken the companies from loss-making to profit in less than 18 months and, with the new investment, we really believe the sky is the limit for what we can achieve.”

Allan Wood, the regional executive for UK Steel Enterprise, said: “Andrew and his colleagues have brought an ailing company back to life, which says volumes about their ambition and ability.

“As an investor we are always looking to support businesses that can create employment and prosper; all the signs are that this is the case with Abbeydale Food Group and we look forward to a long working relationship with the company.”

The group employs more than 110 staff at its Scunthorpe and Denby Dale sites.

It has been making potato products in Scunthorpe for more than 25 years.

UK Steel Enterprise was established in 1975 by the then British Steel Corporation.

The company provides support to communities that were once heavily reliant on the steel industry.

It provides loans and equity finance in a bid to help stimulate economic growth.