UP to 50 jobs will be created when food group Symington’s opens a noodle factory in Yorkshire later this year.
The factory in Hunslet, near Leeds, will take on production work which had previously been carried out in two Chinese factories.
Symington’s has also bought a gravy production factory, in Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire, which employs 20 staff.
In Hunslet, Symington’s has taken a long-term lease on Sprint 70, Old Run Road, which is a 70,000 sq ft factory. A spokesman for Symington’s said that the company had “in-sourced” the packing of noodle pots into Leeds from China in 2008.
The spokesman added: “Now – for the first time – the base production of noodles will be taking place in Leeds, instead of China.
“We decided to do this because we knew that we could supply retailers more quickly if we produced noodles in Leeds.
“Formerly the noodles were produced at two sites in China: one in Guangzhou province, inland from Hong Kong, and one in Hangzhou, inland from Shanghai.”
Earlier this year, David Salkeld, the chief executive of Symington’s, reversed a decision to establish the noodle factory in the Leeds Enterprise Zone, because he claimed the development process was too cumbersome, slow and expensive.
He said at the time: “There were better options outside the enterprise zone. We didn’t see any benefit to being inside the enterprise zone.”
Initially, the Hunslet factory, which is outside the Leeds Enterprise Zone, will employ between 40 and 50 staff when it opens in August, and this figure is expected to grow.
Altogether, Symington’s has 800 employees in Leeds and Bradford, after adding 120 staff last year.
The spokesman added: “We envisage there could be additional production lines there (in Hunslet) in due course.”
The site in Hunslet has been taken on a long-term lease. It is close to Symington’s other site in Beeston, which makes it easier to share facilities and resources.
Paul Fox, of Fox Lloyd Jones, who advised Symington’s, said yesterday: “Sprint 70 has been on our radar for many years.
“We have been tracking its availability, and as soon as the current occupier confirmed their exit, it was important for Symington’s to secure the property for its planned growth.”
A Symington’s spokesman added: “The Goldthorpe business was formerly Frontier Foods, but had been in the hands of Goldenfry Foods for around a year in between.”
In Goldthorpe, Symington’s gravy production operation will be accommodated within Units 8a-c at Power Park.
These have been taken on a new lease from Landlord M7. GVA and Knight Frank are the marketing agents for M7.
Mr Fox added “Symington’s continues to build on its recent successes and grows at an extremely fast pace, and our role is to ensure the property infrastructure and portfolio keeps up with growth rates.
“We will be seeing a lot more activity from this business in the next few years.”
The Symington’s spokesman added: “Although the economic climate is hard, we’re producing good quality and good tasting food.
“Our gross sales are expected to rise this year from £168m to £205m.
“We have got further acquisition and opening plans.
“We are proud of the fact we’re creating manufacturing jobs in Leeds.”
Founded in 1827, Symington’s is credited with inventing instant soup using pea flour.
The soup was used by British troops in the Crimean war of the 1850s.
Supplies of Symington’s soup were also taken to the Antarctic on Captain Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole.
Last year, Symington’s was the subject of a management buyout which was backed by Intermediate Capital Group.
In June 2012, Symington’s acquired the baking business Victoria Foods, which was based in Leigh, Lancashire.
Yesterday. Mr Salkeld said the company had recently created around 60 jobs at its home baking factory in Bradford.
He added: “We have closed the Leigh factory that came with the acquisition of Victoria Foods, and transferred production into our Low Moor facility (in Brad- ford).”
Symington’s has won a number of awards in recent years, including Leeds-based supermarket chain Asda’s supplier of the year title.
The unit in Hunslet is managed by F & C REIT.
GVA and DTZ were the marketing agents.
Chief said no to the zone
David Salkeld, the chief executive of the food group Symington’s, had planned to establish the noodle factory inside the Leeds Enterprise Zone, but changed his mind in January because he claimed the development process was too cumbersome.
At the time, Symington’s stressed that it still aimed to concentrate its business in Leeds. A spokesman said it was fully committed to its site at Thornes Farm, which is inside the enterprise zone, where it has 100 employees.
England’s 24 enterprise zones were established by the Government to stimulate economic growth. The Leeds Enterprise Zone offers a range of benefits and support to companies with plans to expand in Leeds, including simpler and quicker planning approvals.