THE largest employer in Bo’ness confirmed on Wednesday it hopes to create around 50 full-time, permanent jobs in its new extension, set to open by the summer.
A meeting was held at Caledonian Produce on Wednesday by the steering committee overseeing the firm’s expansion into the old Christie Timber site.
The firm bought the Bridgeness Road premises last autumn, that were vacant after Christie’s closure at the end of 2009, and conversion work is already underway.
Early plans for the purchase of Christie Timber were revealed in the Journal and Gazette in September 2010, with the jobs boost confirmed this week.
The firm makes over 90 products for food giant Marks and Spencer, which revealed this week it notched up over £50m of food sales on December 23, its biggest-ever figure for a single day.
Caledonian Produce currently has 900 staff at its Carriden Industrial Estate base.
This week’s Bo’ness jobs announcement comes after investment for the new plant was secured from Caledonian Produce’s parent company, Bakkavor. Debra Nichol-Storie, Caledonian Produce’s human resources manager, said: “During the second half of 2011 we will be expanding our current business to the Christie building.
“We will undertake our usual seasonal temporary recruitment programme for the summer and in addition to that we hope to offer approximately 50 permanent, full-time positions in the new build.”
Added Debra: “The building work has commenced and by mid-summer we hope to open the facilities.
“In terms of products, we will carry on supplying the major retailer we supply.”
Bo’ness councillor Adrian Mahoney, Falkirk Council’s economic strategy and development convener, said: “Certainly Caledonian Produce and Bakkavor have been a real success story in recent years and have enjoyed a good relationship with Marks and Spencer.
“It is good that a company in Bo’ness is providing a high-quality product to a major high street player like Marks and Spencer.
“It’s a real vote of confidence to the area and the workforce as well. They obviously feel it’s a good place to be based and to grow.”
The council had been working with Caledonian Produce, trying to support their expansion, he added.
“Any employer expanding, the chances are a lot of these jobs will be local,” he said.
“People working in a local factory spend in the local economy and that has an impact on the area.”
Christie Timber was in Bo’ness for 15 years but with the global recession came a construction industry downturn.
Of the new jobs, councillor John Constable said: “It’s very welcome news.
“Bo’ness has been the same as the rest of the country, the construction industry has been badly hit by unemployment.
“It’s very good to see here a local company who’s putting in investment and creating jobs.”