Food packaging specialists Faerch Plast grew turnover by almost a third in their second full year of production in County Durham, having made more than £5m in investments since first coming to the region.
The Denmark-headquartered company established its base in Dragonville three years ago, having acquired the site when Veriplast ceased its North East operation to move production to Holland.
The business, which manufactures ready meal trays for cold foods and snacks including bakery, dairy, vegetables and cold meats, invested around £2.7m on plant and equipment during 2013, the first full year in Durham. Latest accounts for 2014 show capital expenditure reached £2.536m, which included £2.168m on plant and machinery.
The accounts detail how turnover rose by 31% in the period, from £13.7m to £17.1m, generating a post-tax operating profit of £389,000, which was slightly down on last year’s profit of £541,000.
Pre-tax profit, meanwhile, slipped from £686,000 to £596,000.
Headcount increased from 57 to 66.
A breakdown in turnover shows £14.4m referred to UK sales, with the remaining £2.68m coming from European sales, representing new markets for the Durham firm which only made turnover in the UK in the previous accounts period.
The firm has previously said it planned to invest to increase production capacity, by installing cutting-edge robot packing systems, cooling machines and compressors, while also extending the plant by 2,000sqm to boost stockholding capacity.
In a strategic report for the year, directors go into greater detail, saying: “This year was the second full year of production in which the momentum from 2013 was continued into 2014, in terms of investment and production.
“The company had another good year which was in line with the directors expectations. Total production increased by 25% when compared with 2013.
“This was aided by further investment in additional Thermoform machines and also by employing additional skilled labour. The average number of employees during the year was 66, this represents an increase of 16%.
“The Faerch Group of companies is now owned by EQT, a Swedish private equity group who wish to continue with the directors’ policy of investment and expansion.
“This is particularly relevant to the Durham site where major investment in a new warehouse and extruder is planned for 2015.
“This will increase production and create further employment at the Durham factory.”