First Minister Peter Robinson has officially opened Willowbrook Farm’s new £1.5million factory in Newtownards which is expected to bring around 30 new jobs to the area.
Killinchy-based Willowbrook, which produces a range of specialty food items including salad bags, stir frys, soup mixes and potato products, said the expansion marks an important step in the development of the company, providing extra processing facilities to meet “ever growing demand”.
“Whilst foreign direct investment is very welcome to Northern Ireland and we will work to bring investors from all over the world into the province, it is always encouraging to see local businesses succeeding,” Mr Robinson said.
Managing director John McCann said the development would create jobs, bring prosperity to the area and generate more business for Willowbrook’s local suppliers.
Some staff have already been taken on at the new factory and others are expected to be added in phases as production increases.
Mr McCann said the company’s aim was “to be recognised as the best producer and supplier of freshly prepared, good quality, innovative food products in the market”.
The company was founded in 1968 on land farmed by the McCann family for over 200 years. It now has turnover of £15m and 150 staff on its payroll.
This year’s acquisition of a second processing facility on the Jubilee Road in Newtownards, coupled with the company’s significant investment in its existing facilities in Killinchy, illustrated the company’s success in the Northern Ireland agribusiness sector, said Mr McCann.
Last year Willowbrook secured orders which are expected to be worth £3m over the next few years from the Co-operative and Musgrave/SuperValu.