MP and MSP briefed on jobs-hope site progress

A SMALL technical team is working on the former Pinneys food factory site at Annan preparing for production to resume in the autumn.

And the skills and positive reputation of former workers will be a factor in the forthcoming recruitment process.

These points emerged in Edinburgh yesterday afternoon (Thursday) when Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell and his son, constituency MSP Oliver Mundell, held a meeting with the new owner of the Stapleton Road site.

Indian-born businessman Keshav Bhagat, 67, heads up Bhagat Holdings, which were confirmed earlier this year as new owners of the Annan factory, which was shut in 2018 by previous owners Young's with the loss of 450 jobs.

After the meeting, David Mundell, who is also Scottish Secretary, described the discussions as 'very positive and useful.'

He said: "Mr Bhagat updated us on progress in getting the site ready and how they were working towards having production up and running by the autumn.

"He believes former employees will be able to offer the skills and experience the company need and that will be reflected during the recruitment process.

"I explained to Mr Bhagat that while many ex-Pinneys' employees had found new jobs they needed to travel to them and some clearly had a preference to work in Annan.

"Mr Bhagat gave us lots of detail about his Russian operation and showed us a video of one of his factories. He hopes to replicate some of the product lines in Annan for the UK and wider markets."

Bhagat Holdings are investing £9 million on the site with Scottish Enterprise providing £1.7 million through a Regional Selective Assistance grant.

Mr Bhagat lives in Kaliningrad, Russia where he has two successful factories, including one engaged in seafood processing.

Oliver Mundell, who represents Dumfriesshire at the Scottish Parliament, was equally upbeat about the meeting.

He said: "Mr Bhagat is clearly a very go-ahead individual who has been devoting a lot of personal time to making this factory a success and is travelling to Annan on a regular basis.

"He values the local skills base and the ex-Pinneys' workforce reputation for hard work and loyalty. 

"Mr Bhagat was very positive about Annan's potential going forward and over time increasing the workforce."