Symington’s transfers noodle production line from China to Leeds

Yorkshire-based food manufacturer, Symington’s, has today officially opened its Old Run Road noodle factory in Hunslet, Leeds. The site was opened by MP for Leeds Central, Hilary Benn, and comes after the company announced last year that it was reshoring its noodle production line from China back to Leeds.

As part of the relocation, a new noodle line was installed in a new plant in Hunslet, close to the company’s main production site at Dartmouth Way.  The £2.5m investment, which created around 50 jobs, will reach full production in the first quarter of 2014, after first becoming operational in November 2013.

“Over the past five years, Symington’s has secured a strong position in branded noodle pots including Golden Wonder and Naked Noodle in the UK market, and in practically all UK supermarket own lines,” said Henrik Pade, business development director for Symington’s. 

“By moving our noodle production to Leeds, we have significantly shortened our supply chain. It used to take between eight to ten weeks to source noodles from China and with this strategic business move we can be more responsive to customer orders and deliver new promotions at short notice.”

Symington’s is continuing to invest in local people and its reshoring of jobs is helping to grow the UK economy.  Of the 50 new jobs in the Hunslet factory, six of these include highly skilled enhanced machine operators.

The aim was to have a group of operators who are trained and capable of completing all the necessary tasks to run the noodle line including set up, basic maintenance and controlling the production process.  

“Traditionally, some of these tasks would have been done by our traditional machine operators so we took a strategic decision to upskill this role within the Hunslet factory,” said Michelle Williams, HR director for Symington’s.  “We’ve invested in training these individuals so that they can train other operators and are equipped to lead our Continuous Improvement teams across the wider business.”

Production was relocated from two plants in China – one in Guangzhou province, in the south of the country, and one in Hangzhou, in the east.  Relocating production from China to Leeds has enabled the company to ensure the security of the company’s supply chain and its production standards.

The noodles from the Hunslet factory line are used in around 100 products including Golden Wonder, The Nation’s Noodle and the Naked Noodle brands and the majority are for UK consumption. It is expected the factory will generate turnover in excess of £15m.

“It’s great to see new jobs being created in Hunslet which will help boost the local economy,” said Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds Central. “Symington’s is an excellent example of innovation in British manufacturing and I am delighted to be here today to officially open the site and to recognise the commitment and hard work of all the employees who have brought this project to life.”

Symington’s said its growth is mainly driven by new product development.  In an average year the company brings 500 new lines to market and it has delivered another year (the 23rd in a row) of both turnover and profit growth. A significant part of this was generated by the inclusion of its Australian acquisition, the three brands from Unilever: Chicken Tonight, Raguletto and Five Brothers, which enabled the company to expand its reach to Australia and New Zealand.

“In the past six years Symington’s has created around 500 new jobs in Leeds going from around 300 employees to around 800 across all out production plants,” said Pade. “We expect to see this growth continue in the coming years, and believe another 75 jobs will be created over the next 12 months.”