Factory staff who feared for their jobs six years ago because of the devastation of the Sheffield floods can forward to the future as a result of a £6m investment.
A new manufacturing line has opened at the premises in Owlerton to produce Oreo and BelVita biscuits for the UK, Ireland and other European markets.
The site is famous for its Trebor, Maynards and Bassetts brands, and now parent company Mondelēz International says it is stepping up its commitment in a move that safeguards 70 jobs.
Maurizio Brusadelli, president of the UK and Ireland at Mondelēz International, said the new Oreo line”clearly signals the importance of the UK as a manufacturing base for us.
“We know that Britain is a nation of biscuit lovers – it is currently the biggest biscuit market in EU. In addition, our Sheffield factory is currently the largest sugar confectionery plant in Europe, and our employees here have the manufacturing expertise we need to turn their hands from sweets to biscuits. This investment is a first step - we hope to follow it with further investment and innovation in biscuits.”
Ian Dearn, head of manufacturing at the Sheffield site, said: “Our Sheffield site has been producing much-loved brands for over 100 years, so we are proud to have been selected to manufacture Oreo in the UK for the first time.
“The investment will increase output and productivity here in Sheffield, but we also see the opening of the new line as an important investment in the local community, which will not only add another string to our manufacturing bow, but also give us the opportunity to create new partnerships with local suppliers for the ingredients to create this iconic brand.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP Nick Clegg officially opened the new line in a ceremony attended by Brightside and Hillsborough MP David Blunkett.
Mr Clegg said: “This investment is a huge boost for the city and the UK – securing local jobs and giving Sheffield employees the skills to work on yet another global brand.”
Mr Blunkett said: “The additional investment and commitment to training are particularly welcome at a time of such great uncertainty for our economy.”
Kevin Whitticase, a senior business analyst with the company, said: “The new production line is a huge announcement for the staff. After the 2007 flood, a lot of people felt the site might close. The factory is a very close-knit community.
“Taking on another category of biscuits is an important step forward.”