McVitie's and Jacob's lines to go back into production at flood-hit UB factory
The factory closed on December 5 last year after floods caused by Storm Desmond - which ravaged much of northern England - inflicted substantial flood damage to electrical equipment and ovens at the site.
Around 540 tonnes of debris have since been cleared from the site, and employees have now returned to work.
United Biscuits said it hopes to resume production across all lines at the factory this month and will have products under brands including McVitie’s, Jacob’s and Carr’s returning to store shelves by the end of March.
Flooding was 'devastating'
“The flooding in northern England was devastating for thousands of people and businesses in the area,” said United Biscuits factory general manager Mike Heaney.
“It’s been awful not to be baking biscuits, so we thank everyone that has helped us along the way to get production back up and running.”
Products such as McVitie’s Ginger Nuts – which are produced at a rate of 250,000 an hour at the site – have been out of stock at major retailers in the wake of the factory shutdown [Brand View].
“Since the floods we have seen extensive coverage in the media around the ‘biscuit shortage’ with consumers wanting our products back on shelves as quickly as possible,” added Heaney. “This encouragement from our loyal biscuit fans has kept our teams going and we thank everyone for their support. We also appreciate the collaboration from our retail and trade customers.”
Ali Ulker, vice chairman of Yildiz Holding – which acquired United Biscuits in November 2014 – visited the Carlisle site this week.
“I am very proud to witness first-hand the speedy turnaround of the factory getting operations back up and running,” he said. “A big thanks goes to our employees for their tireless efforts to meet our consumer needs and get biscuits back into production.”
In addition to work by United Biscuits employees to help the community affected by the storm, UB and Yildiz have offered a contribution to the Cumbria Community Foundation for the 2015 Cumbria Flood Recovery Appeal.
“We have over 6,000 families affected by the floods in our county and we are grateful to everyone who has made a donation large or small,” said Cumbria Community Foundation chief executive Andy Beeforth.
McVities Digestive and Hobnobs brand extended into teacakes
United Biscuits has expanded its McVitie’s Digestives and McVitie’s Hobnobs brands with the launch of teacakes.
Sold in eight-packs with a recommended retail price of £1.65 ($2.35), the teacakes combine soft marshmallow with caramel flavored pieces in the case of the Digestives, and an oaty biscuit crumb in the HobNobs version.
United Biscuits said the products have had a “strong initial response” from retailers.
“We feel the launch offers a groundbreaking new product for our customers,” said McVitie’s Cake Company senior brand manager Karyn Bryant.
“We have already seen success in past innovations where we have brought the taste of McVitie’s products to the cake aisle in new formats, and are confident McVitie’s Teacakes will prove a strong contender against existing ranges,” she added.