Cheese manufacturer in £3m expansion as it grabs bigger slice of pizza market

A firm that specialises in making cheese for pizzas is undergoing a £3 million expansion after winning new business at home and abroad, with support from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Prima Cheese in Seaham, County Durham, is a family-owned dairy processing company that supplies cheese products to wholesale food and catering businesses across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

The business has outgrown its headquarters at Seaham Grange Industrial Estate and is now expanding into adjacent units to accommodate a new fourth production line.

The new line, along with an investment in state-of-the-art machinery to modernise existing production lines, will boost Prima’s production capacity by 50 per cent.

The investment is part of a £3 million programme to support the firm’s long-term growth, boosting quality, efficiency and productivity.

It comes on the back of a successful 2016 that saw Prima grow exports by 88 per cent after it won business in new and emerging markets including Hong Kong, the Dominican Republic, Taiwan and the Maldives.

Prima’s Finance director Andy Davis said: “We’ve been at our current site since 2001 and had reached full capacity, so we have acquired some adjacent units to grow into, which will see us grow from 33,000 sq ft to 55,000 sq ft by the end of 2017.

“We’re upgrading our three production lines with state-of-the-art new machinery, as well as adding a fourth production line, which together will boost capacity by 50 per cent.

“Our growth has been driven by entering new export markets, launching new products and winning market share in our current markets.

“We’ve also invested heavily in research and development to improve efficiency in our production process, as well as investing in things like energy efficient lighting.”

Prima already sells to 17 countries, with export sales making up a growing 20 per cent of revenues.

It’s biggest overseas market is the Middle East, which has helped drive turnover from £42 million in the year to March, 2016, to just under £60 million in the current period.

Prima’s workforce is planned to hit 100 for the first time in 2017, having doubled in the last three years.

Prima is backed by a Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking asset-based lending facility, which enables businesses that have capital tied up in invoices, stock, plant or property to increase their working capital by raising funds using those assets as security.

Money can be released from these assets into the business, funding growth plans and helping smooth over peaks and troughs in revenue.

Andy said: “Asset finance has been a fantastic support for the business.

“It’s flexible, it allows us to spread payments out and it means that we have the working capital we need to keep our business moving.”

Alison Smith, Relationship Director, North East, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking mid markets, said: “Prima Cheese has continued to grow, even through a period of political and economic upheaval, and it’s great to see it winning contracts in emerging markets overseas.

“We look forward to continuing our support as the business targets further domestic and international growth.

“Backing mid-sized businesses like Prima, which are an essential part of their local economies, is all part of our plan to help Britain prosper.”

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