Mash Direct given green light for factory expansion in Comber

Mash Direct is investing around £5.9m in expanding its growing food business.

AGRI-food firm Mash Direct has been given the green light for a multi-million pound expansion of its Comber facility.

The north Down food processor has proposed a significant expansion of its existing factory at Ballyrainey Road.

The company is expected to invest around £5.9 million on extending its factory footprint at the site, creating new office space alongside new vegetable preparation, processing and packaging areas; and new refrigeration and chilled storage space.

The company said the investment will also include sourcing new plant and machinery.

Around 34 direct jobs are expected to be created in the food processing end of the operation.

The planning application, which was lodged in December 2020 was considered by planning officials in Ards and North Down in recent weeks.

After considering the project, planners recommended approval. According to the Northern Ireland Planning Portal, the official green light was issued on July 5.

The application process was assisted by the council’s decision that the factory extension did not require an environmental impact assessment.

The company run by family team Martin, Tracy, Lance and Jack Hamilton, has expanded its growing operation from 70 acres in 2004 to 1,400 acres.

It expects local firms to benefit from around £4.5m from the new investment.

The last set of company accounts filed by Mash Direct revealed the food firm recorded turnover growth of 20 per cent to £22.1m for the year ending February 29 2020.

Mash Direct’s directors had forecast that turnover would hit £32.5m by 2022, anticipating greater post-Brexit demand for vegetables in England, due to higher costs in importing European produce.

While the company has picked up some new business due to Brexit in 2021, a considerable amount of that produce is going across the border

The Comber producer announced a new contract in February to supply Marks & Spencer stores across in the Republic as the retailer switched supply lines in response to issues around the protocol in moving food produce from Britain to Northern Ireland.

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