The new opening is set to increase the 130-strong local production team to 150 staff over the next few years.
Established in 1971 and previously based in Winkleigh, Forthglade’s purpose-built factory is expected to help the company to meet consumer demand. The new factory is set to double the brand’s production, which last year was 40 million meals.
Devon Contractors Ltd helped to build the development which took 15 months to complete. The new factory will also help to raise the company’s green credentials with the use of recyclable white trays and sleeves, recycling water and by using excess steam from the production process to also heat its offices.
Forthglade’s joint MD’s, Chris Brooking and Gerard Lovell, both with a background in food production, took over the once struggling business in 2011, with the successful business turnaround increasing production fourfold and soon creating an additional 71 local jobs.
Lovell said: “We’ve been planning the development of the factory for over five years now, so it’s fantastic to officially open it. Throughout the project we’ve received incredible support from Devon County Council, whilst Devon Contractors ensured a smooth build and seamless transition from the old Winkleigh factory to our new Okehampton home.
“We were keen to keep the factory in Devon to retain as many of our staff as possible, in fact we’ve kept almost 100 percent of them and soon the team will be growing again, as the sector of premium natural meals and treats for dogs continues to see huge growth.”
Councillor Rufus Gilbert added: “It has been extremely positive to have Forthglade relocate to the Okehampton East Business Park and congratulations to them for officially opening their factory this week. We’re pleased that the County Council has been able to play a part in supporting Forthglade’s move, enabling the company to remain in Devon and grow. Its new home provides a great opportunity for the brand to continue its success story in Devon and for new jobs to be created in the area.”
To celebrate the launch, Forthglade donated over 6,000 meals to three local Devon charities that have dogs in their care. Veterans With Dogs, ARC – Animal Rescue Centre and The Blue Cross.
Craig Maclellan, founder of Veterans With Dogs, said: “It’s been wonderful to receive such a generous donation from Forthglade, it will really help nourish our young pups, many of whom are just starting their training before they go off and help transform a veterans life. Being a local Okehampton resident myself, it’s been fascinating watching the factory develop and of course wonderful to see so many jobs created as a result of Forthglade’s success.”