A North Yorkshire company is bringing home the bacon thanks to a £600,000 grant which has secured nearly 300 jobs. Malton-based Karro Food Group, a major producer of bacon and other pork products, created 197 jobs and safeguarded another 90, after securing the grant from the Let’s Grow fund.
Let’s Grow North and East Yorkshire is a Regional Growth Fund programme managed by BE Group in partnership with accountants Clive Owen LLP to support business expansion and diversification to help firms to expand their operations or to set up new establishments in the region.
Let’s Grow helped Karro expand its operation in Malton, including a major upgrade to the gammon processing line at the site and an increase in the company’s fresh pork and gammon production and slicing capability and these improvements have helped Karro win additional business with key customers. Karro processes around 45,000 pigs every week for delivery to the UK’s major supermarkets and wholesale food suppliers markets and it employs about 3,000 people across seven sites UK-wide, generating more than £500m of turnover every year.
Karro has made a significant capital investment in Malton, buying new, state-of-the-art butchery and production machinery, but as a large company they were not eligible for a grant towards that part of the investment under the current European State aid rules.
BE Group senior project adviser Mike Baker explained how it was possible for Karro to obtain grant support: “We quickly realised that Karro’s workforce at Malton was made up of a high proportion of people who are classified as ‘disadvantaged workers’ under the State aid rules, especially workers from ethnic minorities and workers in a certain age bracket. We used one of the lesser-known State aid measures to award the grant based on the first year wage costs of these ‘disadvantaged workers’. This was the only way for Karro to legitimately obtain the grant support required to convince the company’s owners to finance the investment.
Under the terms of the grant Karro was to create the jobs by the end of the year, but it achieved the target by mid summer. Mike Baker said: “For somewhere like Malton, 287 jobs is obviously quite a significant number. The Let’s Grow investment panel saw it as a very worthwhile project to support and was very keen to support it.
“We are delighted to support Karro Foods and it’s a wonderful thing for Malton that these jobs have been created and safeguarded.’’
Di Walker, executive chair at Karro, said: “Karro Food Group was delighted to receive this major grant funding and it has made a really positive impact on our business.
“The grant allows Karro to increasingly build a British supply chain in an industry that has always been importing significantly from Europe.
“As part of a wider £1.5m upgrade to our Malton facilities, the grant has led to additional employment and training in Malton, which has had a wider positive impact on the local economy through sustainable job creation.’’
She added that major advantages of the Let’s Grow programme were its simple and clear application guidelines, as well as regular and positive communications between the initiative and the business throughout the process.
The original funding available for Let’s Grow North and East Yorkshire was £3.8m, of which just under £3.1m has been committed, creating or safeguarding about 600 jobs across North and East Yorkshire. There is still more than £700,000 available to support further projects and, with the scheme due to end in March 2017, the fund managers are looking for more applications. “We are still keen to receive applications for projects that could be considered,’’ said Mike Baker.