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Kent food factory Tilmanstone Salads launch recruitment drive

By Eleanor Perkins

What began as basic spring onion operation 40 years ago is now providing tasty salads and leafy snacks to every Marks & Spencer store in Europe.

Tilmanstone Salads, on the Pike Road Industrial Estate, became the sole leaf salad and prepared vegetable supplier to the reputable food outlet in 2015.

And following a £3 million investment to ensure the site is up to scratch, managers are now looking to recruit more hands.

HR manager Emma Friend, production manager Simon Aldred and general manager Dan Hill

HR manager Emma Friend, production manager Simon Aldred and general manager Dan Hill

Human resources manager Emma Friend said: “We have a large recruitment drive at the moment via our regional recruitment centre. We have up to 170 vacancies, and we’d like to recruit 90 of those roles by the end of June.

“We have a variety of roles from skilled and unskilled production roles.

“Factory experience would be useful, but more important than that, we’re looking for people with good, basic English skills, a conscientious attitude and a willingness to learn.”

The business, formerly known as Kent Salads, is a major employer in the Dover area with more than 870 people working at the site.

Inside Tilmanstone Salads

Inside Tilmanstone Salads

During peak production in the summer they can produce up to 300,000 leafy salad bags, convenience salads and prepared vegetable dishes each day. At the busiest times, that figure can reach two million a week. The company tries to use local produce where it can, with the biggest supplier being Intercrop, based at Betteshanger.

Roles include checking the goods, slicing, sorting and packaging.

The 24/7 operation requires workers to cover shifts paid at an hourly rate, with shifts covering days, evenings and nights.

Those interested can apply online now. An informal interview over the telephone will follow with applicants then asked to complete an online English and maths test.

Those who fare well will then be invited along to a final-stage assessment day held at a centre on-site on Tuesdays.

The finished product at Tilmanstone Salads

The finished product at Tilmanstone Salads

Successful applicants will be notified within 24 hours and, providing all paperwork is in order, they could begin work the following Monday.

General manager Dan Hill said: “This is an exciting time for Tilmanstone Salads as we create additional capacity to meet increased customer demand.

“We have a number of different roles on offer and we look forward to welcoming the new colleagues to our team.”

Tilmanstone Salads offers employees a number of benefits, including a staff shop with vending selections, an occupational health service including on-site physiotherapy, an employee recognition programme and a benefits scheme run by Tilmanstone Salads owner Bakkavor, which provides retail discounts on the high street.

Tilmanstone Salads' general manager Dan Hill with some of the goods they produce

Tilmanstone Salads' general manager Dan Hill with some of the goods they produce

A Stagecoach bus service stops near to the site, bicycle racks are provided for those who cycle, and there is also space for parking.

This recruitment drive is part of a broader Bakkavor scheme across the country.

Last year alone, the group employed an additional 1,000 people as it increased capacity to meet higher demand from customers, particularly in categories such as fresh meals, pizzas, salads and desserts.

Bakkavor currently employs more than 16,500 people in the UK alone.

A worker can typically work on average 35 hours a week. The roles are predominantly full-time.

For more information on the employment opportunities, visit bakkavor.com/careers

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