Washington-born Heather Mills has bought a third North East factory which she says will bring jobs to her home region as she expands her vegan empire.
Ms Mills, a former model and the ex-wife of Sir Paul McCartney, who owns the VBites food production company, took open the former Walkers crisps factory in May last year, with the site set to reopen this summer producing her range of vegan alternatives to meat and dairy products.
VBites already has a factory in Benton in Newcastle. Today Ms Mills, a former Usworth school pupil, announced a third hub in the region, this time in Seaton Delaval in southern Northumberland, where her company is taking over another empty factory.
She said today: “This is now my third factory purchase in the North East to help bring more employment and expand the plant-based meat, fish and allergen free dairy alternative industry as well as micro algae and vegan make up.
"This recent purchase of a factory that has been sitting empty for nearly two years will mean it will bring more jobs to the region and we can incubate all of our VBITES Ventures investments to help them scale up, manufacture, distribute and sell in 24 countries around the world.
"I am hoping that the supermarkets and food service industry will support British manufacturing in these difficult times and Britain can unite to become a booming country in the food and beverage sector.
"I hope you will all support us in buying VBITES products to create a more sustainable future and support growth."
The Seaton Delaval factory was originally owned by Shulton, which made Old Spice aftershave, before being taken over by Procter & Gamble in 1990.
It was then taken over by French firm Coty in 2017 but closed a year later, and since then Northumberland County Council and its regeneration agency Advance Northumberland had been working to find a new purpose for the site.
Ms Mills thanked the area's MP Ronnie Campbell for "helping facilitate and support" the purchase, as well as Lisa Harwood and Coty’s Luc Volatier.
VBites was founded as the Redwood Wholefood Company in 1993. Ms Mills, who has been vegan since the 1990s, bought the company in 2009 and it was rebranded as VBites in 2013. It now sells its products in 24 countries.