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Wholebake in £1m expansion

Food manufacturer specialising in healthy snack bars is investing nearly £1m in an expansion project to meet demand for its products in the UK and overseas.

Corwen based Wholebake has had £250,000 support from the Welsh Government’s Economic Growth Fund which ensures the project goes ahead this financial year.

The company currently exports to 10 countries, a figure it hopes to double over the next two years as it aims to increase its turnover from £6m to £10m within the next three years.

The expansion will increase production capacity, as well as improving office accommodation and staff welfare facilities on site.

It involves extending their 14,000 sq ft facility on Tyn y Llidiart Industrial Estate by a third, installing plant and equipment for new packaging lines and a prefabricated modular building built by Wernick Buildings in Neath.

The company currently employs 40 people and the expansion is set to create 16 new jobs within 12 months. The extension is due to be fully operational during November this year.

Managing director Mark Gould said the investment would enable them to increase production of 9bar, their best selling Free From snack bar, from seven million bars a year to 15 million and target new domestic customers as well as export markets. Mr Gould said the expansion was essential to meet the growing demand for their products and to extend and strengthen their foothold in the healthy snacking market.

"Support from the Economic Growth Fund was crucial to achieve this.

"We now plan to grow significantly whereas before we simply did not have the room to increase production," he said.

"We could not have contemplated this investment and expansion in the current economic climate without this financial support. We would not have taken the risk and would have had to limit growth and employment for at least two years."

Business Minister Edwina Hart said the Economic Growth Fund was designed to enable companies to take advantage of growth opportunities.

"This expansion and job creation is good news and I am pleased the Welsh Government has been able to support Wholebake’s growth plans which will bring benefits to the local economy and support its export strategy."

Wholebake has 10 different product ranges. 9bar is its most successful product to date and the fastest growing product within the business over the last 18 months. The company’s 9bar has provided the company with a mainstream brand that is stocked by all major supermarkets across 3,500 stores in the UK.

The business carries out contract manufacturing as well as producing its own brands.

A management buy out in May 2011, assisted by Finance Wales, enabled the company to change strategy and invest in high growth areas, taking advantage of the substantial growth in the gluten and dairy free product sector over the last three years.

Mr Gould added: "We have in some ways been very fortunate, but we have great products, a robust strategy, considerable financial strength and a tremendously loyal and dedicated workforce and this combination has enabled us to ride the recession and continue to grow our business."

Source: - 18 September 2012