United Biscuits (UB) is planning to invest £15m to increase capacity at its biggest factory next year and is forecasting a 50% increase in its exports by 2020.
It revealed its plans after reporting a 50% jump in exports from the UK over the past three years and receiving congratulations on its export performance from the Chancellor George Osborne.
Britain is the central export hub for the UB business globally, with about 60,000 tonnes of product to be shipped from the UK across 2015, worth a total of £250m in retail sales for the year. Two-thirds of this comprised UB’s McVitie’s Digestives range, with exports of the original McVitie’s Digestive alone increasing by 20% year-on-year in 2015.
UB said it had invested significantly in its UK operations over the past two years, including in its Harlesden facility in west London, which it claims is the biggest biscuit factory in Europe. The factory currently produces about one-sixth of its output for export, and a further £15m of investment is planned in 2016.
Jeff van der Eems, chief executive of United Biscuits, said: “At United Biscuits we have established a strong track record of success in finding consumers worldwide who love our iconic McVitie’s British biscuits. Whether through exporting or manufacturing locally, our international development model is central to UB’s strategy for growth and will involve continued investment in our UK sites.
“We have focused in particular on making McVitie’s Digestives a truly global product. This wonderful British biscuit is appreciated worldwide. Finding appropriate ways to introduce McVitie’s to consumers on all continents has helped our exports boom and will continue to drive investment in Harlesden and our other UK sites.
“This is a major reason for our success and the booming export figures for McVitie’s this year, and we are investing in our capacity to continue feeding the global demand for our biscuits and baked snacks.”
George Osborne added: “It’s fantastic to see a great British company like United Biscuits making this commitment today to boost exports of their iconic range of brands over the next five years.
“Their bold decision-making shows that Britain is standing tall in the world and demonstrates that businesses built here are able to capitalise on opportunities in global markets.”