Telford firm Avara Foods creates 150 new jobs

One of the UK’s biggest food businesses and a major employer in Telford has taken on an additional 150 staff to help meet the rise in demand for chicken.

Avara Foods, which employs about 1,000 people at its site at the Hortonwood Industrial Estate, took on the additional staff between March and August this year.

It comes as the firm hit a new high of 1.5 million chickens processed per week during August.

The firm said it is bucking the current national trend for manufacturing as investment continues in many forms and guises.

According to a recent survey by EEF and Santander Bank, manufacturing investment "contracted quite sharply” in the first half of 2018.

But since reopening the Telford plant in 2015 following a £36 million expansion and refit, investment in technology, automation and infrastructure has continued.

Within the building, whole chickens are portioned and packed into the products that will be familiar to supermarket shoppers.

Graham Clempner, site manager, said: "This year has been fantastic for our Telford site. The factory has quickly adjusted, exceeded targets and managed the additional demand exceptionally well. The amount of extra work coming in to Telford will be great for ongoing recruitment and development.”

Alongside investment in technology, investment in people has been at the heart of its recent growth and success, the firm said.

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At the end of September it concluded a pay review – resulting in an inflation-busting 4.4 per cent increase for over 850 of the Telford team.

With the available labour pool reducing further, due in part to Telford’s low overall unemployment, competition for new recruits is tougher than ever, the firm revealed. It said its policy is to build for the future and invest in the next generation of talent.

In September seven new apprentices joined the team, including the first degree apprentices studying food science and food engineering with Harper Adams University.

Andrew Brodie, people and communications director, said: "Now, more than ever, we must focus on sourcing and developing our own talent. 2018 is the pilot year for our degree apprenticeships, which we hope will open up higher education for talented students aiming to earn while they learn.”

Andrew added the uncertainty over Brexit isn’t dampening the firm's plans.

"There’s no doubt that the Brexit vote has thrown everything up in the air,” Mr Brodie said. "All we can do is focus on what we do best – great food, produced efficiently and to high standards. Automation will be essential to our future success and as part of our people strategy. By automating repetitive tasks we can become more efficient and also create new, more skilled roles that are more meaningful and better rewarded.”




Date: 23 October 2018 | Source: Shropshire Star

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