A £6 million expansion at a fast-growing food distribution company will create 150 new jobs in a major boost to the economy of rural Gwynedd.
News of the investment was revealed during a visit to Harlech Foodservice by Liz Saville Roberts, MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd and her Senedd counterpart, Mabon ap Gwynfor.
They were given a briefing and a guided tour of the firm’s headquarters site near Cricieth by Managing Director David Cattrall and Joint Chairman Andrew Foskett.
Over the past three year sales have increased from £32 million to a record turnover of around £50 million, with profit at an all-time high of more than £2 million in the current year.
One of the major reasons for the growth was a change of strategy which has seen Harlech Foodservice win a raft of public sector contracts in health and education, in addition to its core customer base in tourism and hospitality.
As well as expanding into the North West and the Midlands, the company has also opened a new depot in Merthyr Tydfil to cater for new clients in South Wales.
Mabon ap Gwynfor said: “Harlech Foodservice is one of the most important anchor companies here in Gwynedd.
“Everyone knows the brand. They employ a large number of people, so they are of great importance not only to the economy in this area but also important to Wales as a whole because they distribute food throughout the country.
“The investment that’s going into the site is incredibly positive news because it shows growth, progress and confidence, not only in this wonderful business but also in the workforce.
“It’s clear to me that the people who work here are committed and appreciate that they’re working for a company which treats them well and they provide salaries that enable people, including young families, to live in their own area.”
Equally delighted was Liz Saville-Roberts who was familiar with Harlech Foodservice even before she became the local MP eight years ago.
She used to visit the company in her previous role as a lecturer at Coleg Meirion Dwyfor in Dolgellau and several of her former students are employed there, including Head of Operations Ian Evans.
Ms Saville Roberts said: “I am delighted that so many local people are employed here and that the reach of Harlech Foodservice is growing, reaching across North Wales down into South Wales and across into the North West and the Midlands.
“The fact there is so much investment going into this site will give them the potential to grow and create more employment, making the business secure on this site.
“I’m proud to do anything I can to help them because companies like Harlech Foodservice are the backbone of the economy in rural counties like Gwynedd.
“There’s been a decline in public sector employment in this area so it’s good to see quality private sector employment, with decent wages, decent career opportunities and security of employment.
“I know that the people who work here, stay here which is one of the real signs that the staff are happy in their work.”
Earlier this year the family firm increased the capacity of its giant freezer by 25% after reconfiguring the racking with narrower aisles and adding an extra row.
As part of the plan the company also bought “bendy” forklift trucks that can navigate the tighter spaces.
The new investment will see processing and warehouse capacity almost doubling in the next five years.
Managing director David Cattrall said: “We have squeezed as much space as we possibly can out of the existing facilities and what we now need to do is make the site bigger as part of our next phase of expansion.
“We’re expecting our turnover to double to around £100 million over the next five years and we’re building with that in mind.
“The expansion will happen over three phases costing a total of around £6 million – we will be gaining an extra 80 per cent in processing and storage capacity so it’s going to be a gamechanger for us.
“It’s going to enable us to reach farther afield in the whole of Wales go out into the Midlands and North West England, from our home base in Gwynedd.
“We’re having a record year for sales in the company’s history and a record year for profit even though we are reinvesting heavily in making the business fit for the future and making sure our prices are aggressively competitive.”
Joint chairman Andrew Foskett added: “This investment is a major vote of confidence in this site and wider Gwynedd. We’re a family-owned business and we are keen for the heart of the operation to remain located in this area.
“The upshot is that we’ll be creating 100 jobs at our headquarters site and 50 jobs elsewhere over the next three to five years.
“We’ve all had a tough time through the pandemic but these are really exciting times for Harlech Foodservice.
“The level of investment we’re putting in is unprecedented but it is absolutely essential so that we can continue growing and play our part in boosting the local economy.”