Mash Direct is investing £10 million in increasing capacity and making its production faciilty more environmentally friendly.
The Northern Irish processed vegetable firm has secured a £10m funding package from HSBC UK which it will use to upgrade its facility in County Down. New solar and wind energy machinery will be installed, along with a wastewater treatment facility, helping to future-proof the business by reducing its carbon footprint and making the overall plant more sustainable.
The company will also boost its potential for growth by adding new production lines to its industrial kitchen in order to produce new dishes and increase production capacity. The business will add a new onion peeler that will free up space in its peeling area, as well as invest in robotics and enterprise-management software.
Mash Direct supplies major supermarket chains including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Waitrose, Co-op, Aldi, Lidl and Dunnes, and in 2018 its products were also sold in the US for the first time.
There will also be investment in people, with Mash Direct set to hire 12 new staff to support the growth this year. The new roles will range from operations and management to sales, marketing, exports and human resources, and the business is also investing in a training programme to upskill its existing team.
“With growing demand for our range of products at home and abroad, it was essential that we invested in new, environmentally friendly machinery and in the talented, skilled staff we currently have," said chief operating officer Jack Hamilton.
“Improving our carbon footprint is very important to the business and great strides will be made to do this with our investment in new technology. HSBC UK shares our vision for growth and understands our immediate needs as a rapidly scaling SME in the agrifoods sector.”
Allan Wilkinson, head of agrifoods at HSBC UK, said the cash came from the bank's £14 billion national SME fund, which aims to actively support UK businesses to realise their ambitions for growth and navigate Brexit. “Mash Direct is an exciting and ambitious SME operating in a highly competitive and thriving agrifoods sector," he said. "The improvements it is making to its farming operations with HSBC UK’s support will stand it in good stead as it aims to grow its market share and meet demand from customers across the UK and overseas.
“Family farms are at the heart of rural communities but with constantly changing agricultural policies, businesses must look at ways to safeguard and improve its business for growth. The most resilient businesses are the ones that look to the future and embrace change, and Jack and his team are certainly doing just that.”