Confectionery giant safeguards jobs with £5m investment

Glen Gayton hard at work at Burton's 'Biscuits Company.

Glen Gayton hard at work at Burton's 'Biscuits Company.

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One of Blackpool’s biggest employers has safeguarded hundreds of jobs with a £5m investment in a new range of biscuits.

Burton’s Biscuit Company off Devonshire Road has installed a new hi-tech production line to produce its newest creation, Maryland Soft Bakes.

The investment will safeguard the 500 jobs at the site which the company has dubbed its ‘cookie centre of excellence’. If the range takes off, the firm could take on up to 50 extra staff.

It is the second major investment in the Blackpool factory in three years.

In 2013 the company ploughed £2m into Devonshire Road to produce its Maryland Gooeys range.

The state-of-the-art Soft Baked line can produce one tonne of biscuits an hour and it massively increases the factory’s capacity and capability.

The firm has spent a year researching and refining the new biscuits which are designed to be soft textured like in house supermarket American style cookies, but with a longer shelf life so they stay fresher longer.

They come in two flavours Caramel & Choc Chunk and Double Choc Chunk.

Toby Baker, Director of Sweet at Burton’s, said: “We saw a gap in the market for this style of specialist biscuit and we have researched it thoroughly. It is a big step but we have a track record of creating innovative new biscuits. The Gooeys range which we introduced in 2013 is doing realy well so we are confident thse will also be a success.

“Introducing new, products like Maryland Soft Baked, ensures that our power brands remain consumer favourites and that we’re continuing to transform the UK biscuit aisle.

“Supported by more than £3m of consumer investment into the Maryland brand in 2015, we’re confident consumers and retailers alike will love this new cookie.

“Early inidcations are that it is well received.”

Factory manager Chris Clarke said: “This is a significant investment in Blackpool and it will safeguard the jobs here.

“This is a unique product for one of the big biscuit making companies so we are very pleased.”

Matt Potts, who oversaw the installation of the new production line, said: “It has gone amazingly well.

“We had the full team working on it, designers, engineers, operators and the people at the packing end of the operation all had input. And from virtually the moment we pushed the green button for the first time it has worked well.”

The installation required Burton’s to re-floor parts of the factory, upgrade electronics and carry out significant infrastructure work.

New dough mixers have been put in on the floor above which the biscuit mixture drops down to the hoppers which then squeeze out the exact amount needed for each biscuit onto a rolling steel conveyor to the 1.5m wide ovens which bake them.

The company produces the full Maryland Cookie range at Blackpool, worth £47m, as well as Cadbury chocolate fingers.

Burton’s employs 2,000 and has other factories in Edinburgh and Llantarnam, South Wales, a chocolate refinery in Moreton, on the Wirral and a distribution centre in Liverpool.

Simon Bourne, Director of Operations, Burton’s Biscuit Company said: “Through continued investment in our processes and supply chain operations, we are now able to bring products like Maryland Soft Baked to market faster.

“The new production line at our Cookie Centre of Excellence, means we have increased capacity and greater capabilities, resulting in a delicious, high quality cookie.”