Vegetarian specialists Quorn Foods are poised to create a raft of sales roles in Europe as part of ambitious expansion plans that could lead to more jobs at its North East manufacturing facility.
The firm is embarking on a two-year growth strategy to significantly increase its presence on the continent, starting by opening sales and marketing offices in Germany, Denmark and Finland this month.
The move follows record growth for the company since 2012, with half-year results for 2014 showing a 9% rise in global sales volumes, putting the Stokesley-headquartered business on track to exceed last year’s turnover of £141m.
Quorn already operates in 16 international markets and international volume growth is up 16% year-on-year, with exports now accounting for around one third of the company’s overall sales revenue.
Now the firm will begin its expansion drive with a German market launch this month, following on from a successful two-year trial.
The company has targeted Germany as a significant growth opportunity for Quorn, with the country’s meat-free market currently worth at least £78.5m and growing at 30% year-on-year.
Directors will also launching nationally in Denmark and Finland in late October, building on initial smaller scale success in both markets, and several other European markets including Spain and France are currently being explored.
The company, which employs 600 people, will initially employ small sales teams in each country, starting with three employees in Germany, with all products continuing to be manufactured and exported from the Teesside operation.
If successful, the European popularity of Quorn products could lead to more jobs being created in the North East to help meet the demand.
The jobs pledge comes on top of the 400 jobs set to be created through the firm’s current investment programme.
Quorn is investing £30m to create a third fermenter at its Billingham production site near Middlesbrough, which will boost the company’s production capacity by 50%.
Kevin Brennan, chief executive officer of Quorn said: “Despite the challenging economic environment in the eurozone countries, we believe the unique nature of Quorn enables us to continue to invest in new markets, including setting up our own sales office in Germany.
“With strong investment and through good local organisation, we’re confident that Quorn can become a market leading brand.
“We’re seeing growth all over the world, as people globally are re-thinking their meat-eating habits and becoming more aware of the ethical, health and environmental benefits Quorn offers.
“For the first time, more carnivores than vegetarians are eating our products, with two million more people buying our products over the last year.
“Our expansion into Germany is just the beginning. Quorn has the potential to become a $1bn business, four to five times its current size, building on the success we are already experiencing across the globe.”