This week saw the official opening of a new 70,000 sq ft factory by Devon-based Forthglade. The new premises based at the Okehampton East Business Park will support the company’s ambition to become the UK’s leading natural pet food manufacturer and is set to increase the already 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 will be crucial for the company to meet the high demand of its award-winning natural pet food, which last year produced 40 million healthy meals for dogs. The new factory is set to double this production figure.
With local building expertise from Devon Contractors Ltd, the development took 15 months to complete. The new factory will ensure the highest standards of quality and food safety, as well as 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.
Today Forthglade’s 100% natural dog food is sold in major supermarkets including Waitrose, Sainsburys, Morrison’s and Tesco, as well as UK pet shops, online and exporting oversees to 11 countries.
“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 Ltd ensured a smooth build and seamless transition from the old Winkleigh factory to our new Okehampton home," said Gerard Lovell, Joint MD, Forthglade.
“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% 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.
Forthglade marked its new factory’s official opening by donating more than 6,000 meals to three local animal charities: From left to right, Veterans With Dogs, ARC Animal Rescue Centre and Blue Cross.
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said of the development: "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 6000 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 of the day “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."
A Forthglade team picture from the past.