Chef sauce comes home with €7m Valeo investment

Plant upgrade brings production back to Ireland

Grainne O’Halloran, technical director and Oliver Sutherland, group commercial officer, at the Valeo Foods plant. Photograph: Chris Bellew/Fennell

Grainne O’Halloran, technical director and Oliver Sutherland, group commercial officer, at the Valeo Foods plant. Photograph: Chris Bellew/Fennell

 

Valeo Foods, the Irish food company that owns the Jacobs biscuit brand, has brought production back to Ireland of the preserves brand Fruitfield, and Chef, the range of sauces.

The company has invested €7 million in an upgrade of one of its manufacturing facilities, in Cabra, Dublin.The investment will facilitate a boost in production at the plant that will result in 40 new jobs over the next 12 months, bringing the total employed at the site to 150.

Production of the Chef sauce range and the Fruitfield jams has already shifted back to the plant following the upgrade, which was officially launched on Monday. The Chef brand is also launching a new bottle design to mark its return to Ireland.

Other well-known Irish brands manufactured at the Cabra site include Batchelors peas and beans, Erin soups, Odlums flour and Shamrock baking products. With the return of Chef and Fruitfield, the factory will produce about 85 million “customer packs” each year, the company said.

“With the expansion and upgrading of our production facilities at Cabra we now have a best-in-class international site,” said Oliver Sutherland, chief commercial officer of Valeo. “We look forward to growing our manufacturing output in Ireland and further supporting the local economy and Irish suppliers.”

Valeo, which is touted in financial circles as a potential flotation candidate, is in the midst of a major investment drive. The company looked at a stock market offering last year, but decided to concentrate instead on building growth.

Earlier this month the company agreed a deal of about €200 million to buy Balconi, an Italian cake and biscuit company. When consolidated into the operations of Valeo, that transaction will bring the Irish group’s turnover up to about €700 million, with 1,000 employees in total, 800 of whom are based in Ireland.

Valeo, whose chief executive is Seamus Kearney, a former Aer Lingus executive, is controlled by the private equity house CapVest, founded by Cavan investor Seamus Fitzpatrick.