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HEART of ENGLAND fine foods

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New figures reveal regional food group' success

Nearly 50 jobs have been created in Shropshire’s food and drink sector in the last three years, according to the company tasked with helping develop the industry in the Midlands region.

New figures from HEART of ENGLAND fine foods reveal an extra £9.4 million has been ploughed into the county’s economy since it won the contract to manage the Shropshire Food Enterprise Centre on behalf of Shropshire Council.

The centre is home to a number of businesses based at the purpose-built food production units, as well as meeting and conference space, the Taste Kitchen and the Local Food Store, which stocks locally produced food and drink.

Shropshire Council recently advised HEFF that it was terminating the company’s lease on the offices at the centre, which automatically terminates HEFF’s management contract.

However, HEFF chief executive Karen Davies MBE is keen to reassure customers using the venue that it is business as usual while talks are ongoing with the authority.

Mrs Davies said: “Between April 2010 and June 2013, our results have not only been impressive but in this current economic climate, outstanding. Around £9.4 million has been contributed to the Shropshire economy thanks to work we’ve done here, helping businesses develop and grow.

“Our target was to support the creation of 27 new businesses within the six years of our contract – three years in and 42 new businesses have been created.

“This centre also attracts 10,000 visitors a year – they are using our meeting and conferencing facilities, dining at the TASTE Kitchen and stocking up in the our shop. We want to reassure all our customers that we are exploring all options, and in talks with the council, but in the meantime it is very much business as usual.

“We are looking at the festive lines which will be on the shelves and our Christmas menu has already been developed by HEFF chef Danny Silcock, who is continuing to serve up locally produced food and drink of the highest quality in the TASTE Kitchen.”

In 2012, HEFF received three years of European funding to help continue its work across a swathe of the Midlands.

Mrs Davies added: “We continue to deliver on this – wherever our offices are based. But for now, and at least well into 2014, that will be from here in Shropshire.

“Food and drink businesses know that we know their business. They trust us to champion their products, to offer insights and business intelligence which helps them grow and develop routes to market. Importantly, we offer a total supply chain solution to meet the needs of retailers and food service companies.

“We have no doubt that this expertise and support is a key factor in attracting businesses to the food production unit at the Shropshire Food Enterprise Centre. We hope a solution can be found which ensures that the centre continues to attract new businesses which are supported as they are now, to grow and create wealth and jobs within the Shropshire economy.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by HEART of ENGLAND fine foods .

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