A COMPANY owned by kitchen tycoon Malcolm Healey is set to create 500 jobs after buying a former manufacturing plant in North Lincolnshire.
Wren Kitchens & Bedrooms, one of the UK’s fastest growing kitchen and bedroom retailers, has completed the acquisition of the disused Kimberly-Clark manufacturing plant off Falklands Way in Barton-Upon-Humber.
As part of the largest single investment the company has made in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, the 180-acre site will be transformed into Wren’s new head office, complete with a centralised customer service department, warehousing, logistics and manufacturing facilities.
Five hundred jobs will be created over the next five years, with the first 100 vacancies expected to be filled within six months.
A spokesman for Wren confirmed that the company belongs to Mr Healey, who made his fortune in the kitchen retail trade. He is probably best known for founding the Hygena chain.
In April, Malcolm and his brother Eddie, were ranked 48th in The Sunday Times Rich list. The Hull-based brothers, who share a joint fortune of £1.5bn, topped Yorkshire’s rich list for the third year running.
Eddie Healey, 75, turned a piece of derelict land beside the M1 in Sheffield into the Meadhowhall shopping centre. Its sale in 1999 netted him £420m.
Malcolm Healey’s decision to establish Wren’s head office in Barton-Upon-Humber will provide a shot in the arm for North Lincolnshire’s economy.
Kimberly-Clark’s Barton-upon-Humber factory, which employed 378 people, closed earlier this year. The closure followed Kimberly-Clark’s announcement that it had stopped making and selling Huggies nappies in Europe, with the exception of Italy.
Speaking in October last year, company vice-president Dave Faddis said: “These are tough choices, but they are necessary to improve our competitive position and make Kimberly-Clark’s consumer business stronger in Europe.”
Wren said it had worked closely with the leader of North Lincolnshire Council, Coun Liz Redfern, in connection with the acquisition. Support was also received from Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy, Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin and Grimsby and Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers.
Yesterday, Wren’s finance director Mark Pullan said: “This deal would not have been possible without the input of Coun Redfern and all three local MPs. Their support during this process has been invaluable and we are hugely grateful.”
Wren Kitchens & Bedrooms employs 1,200 people in the UK, Around 650 of the company’s staff are based in East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.
A company spokesman added: “Along with the company’s existing plants in Scunthorpe and Howden, the Barton site will help meet the rapidly increasing customer demand Wren continues to enjoy.”
Wren has 38 stores around Britain and plans to open an extra 60 over the next three years. Wren, which was founded in 2009, achieved £79,000 turnover in the first year. This year, the turnover is expected to reach around £150m.
Mr Pullan added: “At a time when most of our competitors have moved their manufacturing overseas, Wren has remained committed to manufacturing in the UK. We have recently invested £5m in our Scunthorpe plant.
“The Barton site is needed to meet the demands of a growing network of Wren stores and an expanding product portfolio.”
A company spokesman said yesterday: “We are a local company and, when the site at Barton was brought to our attention, we were keen to see if we could make it work.
“The site is large enough to cater for future expansion, and is close to both of our existing sites which makes managing the operation somewhat easier.”
The company declined to reveal how much it was investing in the Barton site, for reasons of commercial confidentiality.
Wren is part of a group which includes Ebuyer.com, the online electronic retailer.