Former Westwick Heinz factory to reopen under new Albert Bartlett owners this September

PUBLISHED: 09:50 08 July 2015

The old Heinz factory at Westwick near North Walsham. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The old Heinz factory at Westwick near North Walsham. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

Farmers are welcoming the news the former Heinz factory near North Walsham will be producing potato-based products from this September following a four-month closure.

The Westwick factory, which closed at the end of April this year, was bought by Scottish-based Albert Bartlett whose Rooster brand potatoes are widely sold in UK supermarkets.

More than 100 members of Aylsham Agricultural Show Association were told by an Albert Bartlett representative on Monday that the factory will produce chilled and frozen potato products as part of its expanding Rooster brand from September 1.

They learned that Albert Bartlett had invested £2.5m in the factory.

The Scottish firm also wants Norfolk potato farmers to grow specifically for the Westwick factory and pledged to use 100pc homegrown potatoes rather than European imports.

Thomas Love, National Farmers’ Union county chairman for Norfolk who is also a potato producer in Walcott area, said: “From what I understand, the factory is going to open early September and is going to be using mainly British potatoes. In future years we would like to have most of them grown from Norfolk which will help our economy and strengthen the county’s potato growing sector.

“The farmers of Norfolk will be very pleased to supply Albert Bartlett with a big portion of their demand.

“I’m delighted the factory is opening. All Norfolk potato growers will be very pleased.”

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “I’m thrilled this is happening. It big boost for the local economy and a vote of confidence for north Norfolk. It will provide a lot of job opportunities.”

The number of jobs created by Albert Bartlett is unknown but Julia Nix, district manager for East Anglia JobCentre Plus, said the Westwick factory was part of the firm’s expansion plans which was positive for the area.

Mrs Nix said Albert Bartlett was working with the JobCentre Plus in contacting former Heinz employees for potential jobs.

She added fewer than 30 former Heinz workers, out of 200 who lost their jobs, contacted the JobCentre Plus after the factory closure.

The EDP contacted Albert Bartlett for a comment but they had not responded by the time the EDP went to press.

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