Gallery: �12million freezer centre for Wisbech gets a warm welcome

DUTCH based Partner Logistics celebrated the opening of a �12million frozen food warehouse in Wisbech today by announcing it was about to submit an application for a second site nearby.

The company has already provided 50 jobs in the town and this number is expected to double within two years.

UK director Ray Perry said the 77,000 pallet, fully automated Wisbech ‘freezer’ centre was already nearly full following contracts with three suppliers, Lamb Weston, Bird’s Eye and Pinguin Foods.

“We have come a long way in a few months,” Mr Perry told guests, describing how work had stalled when the contractor went bust and the construction of the 175m by 88m building was taken in house.

Not only had the site created 50 jobs but many others were being created among the hauliers and suppliers who were already using the Boleness Road facility – one of the tallest buildings in the Fens which can be seen from six miles away.

Set up in 2002 by entrepreneur Bram Hage, the company has expanded quickly to become one of Europe’s leading providers of warehousing for deep frozen products.

The company now has 14 frozen food warehouses, two chilled units and two ambient units across the continent – including three in the UK. This number is expected to grow in the next few years, said Mr Perry, as it expands its food base into retail and electronics.

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He praised Fenland District Council and regional development agencies that had helped them secure the Wisbech site and promised Partner Logistics would bring its “socially meaningful” company philosophy with them to the Fens.

“The emphasis here is on our employers – people to come to use we develop and we train them,” he said. One apprenticeship in IT had already been created and others would follow.

“When we bring in technology, we bring in new skills,” said Mr Perry, who added the company was acutely aware of its environmental footprint and was already in talks with an energy producer to use local vegetable waste in generating power for the Wisbech site.

Councillor Alan Melton, leader of Fenland District Council, promised the authority would work with Partner Logistics to expand locally and said it had been a good example of the private and public sectors working together for community.

“To put it quite bluntly you are very welcome here in Fenland,” said Cllr Melton. “We now look forward to phase two.”

A plaque commemorating the official opening was unveiled by Councillor Nick Meekins, Mayor of Wisbech, who reminded guests that in 1937 the Smedleys plant in Lynn Road, Wisbech, had created the first frozen foods (asparagus) in the country.

“We were at the forefront then, and we are still at the forefront of the frozen food industry,” he added.

During a question and answer sessions with guests – who included many of the company’s workers- a Wisbech councillor asked if visitors could climb to the top of the new warehouse, which at its peak is 36m high, to see out over the Fens.

Mr Perry promised Councillor Jonathan Farmer they would consider creating a viewing platform.