UK: Growing CK Foods opens £5m plant in city

By Ismail Mulla, Business Reporter, Yorkshire Post

A food manufacturer has opened a new £5m food production facility in Bradford as it looks to expand its offering.

Family-owned CK Foods is introducing poultry products into its business having previously specialised in cheese.

Omar Bhamji, managing director at CK Foods, told The Yorkshire Post: “Historically, we used to

 MD of CK Foods, Bradford, Omar Bhamji. Picture Scott Merrylees

MD of CK Foods, Bradford, Omar Bhamji. Picture Scott Merrylees

manufacture pizza cheese which we do in our factory in Hull. We’ve just opened up this other factory in Bradford to do chicken products.

“We’ve purpose-built a facility to do chicken products. We’ve invested in some latest technology equipment to do a range of products”

The site in Bradford is already employing 20 people and Mr Bhamji says that once it’s operating at capacity the firm expects to have up to 60 staff employed there. CK Foods employs a further 60 people at its site in Hull.

A gap in the market for locally sourced poultry product was the inspiration behind the opening of the new facility in West Bowling, which received over £800,000 funding from the Leeds City Region.

Mr Bhamji said: “Cheese was basically our entry into manufacturing, it just gave us an idea as to what the manufacturing role relates.

“We saw there was an opportunity within the market for locally produced poultry products, with a close UK supply chain, which wasn’t being catered for. Most of the products were coming in from the Far East or Eastern Europe and so forth.”

As well as the proximity of the supply chain, CK Foods chose Bradford, as the site for its expansion, in order to plug into the network of businesses already catering to the South Asian demographic.

Mr Bhamji said: “Typically, Bradford seems to have a strong ethnic business community doing ethnic products, so it was about plugging into that network.

“You’ve got your Asian bakeries. You’ve got other products that are being produced here in Bradford already, so we’re just bolting on to that.”

By situating near other businesses looking to tap into a similar demographic CK Foods hopes to see potential customers drop in when they’re visiting the area.

“You’ve got customers coming in to view bakery products nearby, they’ll come and see our poultry and some of the other products that we produce here,” said Mr Bhamji.

“There is a potential for it to be a hub for South Asian foods. We have the infrastructure in place, universities, the road, rail networks are close by.”

Mr Bhamji said the grant from the City Region was “instrumental” in the business expanding.

CK Foods, which has a turnover of £30m, was due to open the facility in Bradford in 2012 but the project was hit by delays.

Mr Bhamji said: “We did things in phases, we did the building construction work first and then we decided to do a fit-out in a second phase.

“The second phase fit-out was delayed for numerous reasons, then we were looking for the right opportunity to come into the marketplace.”

Over the past few months the firm has been going through a test phase at the plant which is now up and running.

Looking ahead, Mr Bhamji says that the business is hoping to add more products to its range, especially meat and poultry products.

Manufacturer expands into poultry products

The food manufacturing business evolved from a wholesale distribution venture.

Mr Bhamji says that they were finding it difficult sourcing ingredients they needed to service the wholesale sector and that led to CK Foods branching out into manufacturing.

In opening the new plant in Bradford, CK Foods hopes to take advantage of economies of scale.

Mr Bhamji said: “We’re producing products on a large scale. We create economies of scale by producing in volume on a fully automated line. The line is completely connected.”

He added that the food processing market was buoyant and growing.