From village food shop to base Down Under

Members of the Gilbert's team.
Members of the Gilbert's team.

A food firm which started life as a village shop has open ed a new base – in Australia.

Gilbert’s Foods, which employs 40 people in Heysham, has opened a new division in Brisbane and will create more new jobs in Lancashire.

Gilbert’s, which is based at Middleton Business Park is a leading supplier of meat and poultry dishes to the wholesale, foodservice and retail sectors.

Its expanson abroad comes after it achieved its best year ever in 2012, smashing a sales target of £10 million, up from £6 million in 2011.

The small Brisbane division will be responsible for handling, sourcing, importing and exporting meat products which are designed for reheating.

The office will be managed by Andrew Smith, who already lived Down Under and who is brother of Peter Smith, the company’s managing director.

It opened following audits, inspections and supplier reviews to ensure all products met the British and Australian standards.

Initially, 20 products will be available to the Australian marketplace.

The UK market now also has the opportunity to purchase raw meat cuts direct from Gilbert’s Foods Australia through the head office in Lancashire.

Further growth is now planned, with a focus on developing the British market and expansion into Europe.

The firm has already increased its storage facility by investing in a 5,000 sq feet site in Heysham, which allows an extra 300 pallets to be stored to facilitate larger orders.

It is also strengthening its offering by recruiting several graduates onto the sales and customers service team where numbers could increase by 10 per cent.

Peter Smith, said: “This is a very exciting time for Gilbert’s Foods as we have officially launched the Australian division and achieved our ambitious sales target of £10m, while growth plans for the next 12 months look very positive.

“The Australian office will allow us to break into the retail, foodservice and wholesale markets over there and we have already secured some lucrative contracts.

“At the moment, our focus is on finished pork and lamb products but as the business develops, we will be increasing our offering, with the aim of becoming a well-respected, quality meat supplier in the Australian market.

“We are in a period of strong growth and all these developments put us in a good position to take the business forwards to become a major player in the UK and international food industry.”

For more details about the firm, which was established in 1970, visit www.gilbertsfoods.co.uk.