Less than a year after it was almost devastated by fire, a Galway business is about to undergo a major expansion.
Westbake, which is based in Glenamaddy in Galway, suffered a near catastrophic fire last July.
Speaking to the Western People, one of the owners, Aidan Fanning, from Roundfort in South Mayo, hailed the local fire service in North Galway who had effectively saved his business from total destruction.
“We had just spent €400,000 on the factory weeks before. The blaze began when an oven caught fire and but for the quick work of the fire units, we could have lost the roof of the factory, which could have forced us to close down completely. Instead, we only had to close for six weeks.”
Mr Fanning said the fire caused damage of almost €4m to the 40,000 square feet premises but the support of loyal customers and staff had seen the business through an incredibly difficult period. The firm employs a staff of 110, many of whom are from the South Mayo area where Aidan and one of his two partners, Kevin O’Connor from Ballinrobe, have family ties. The management trio now plans to expand the business, which will increase production and staff numbers.
“We are up by ten per cent on production of muffins on last year and this will increase with our new equipment, which will enhance the production line. It means we can tap into other markets throughout Europe.”
Mr Fanning said between 80 and 90 per cent of the firm’s produce is exported, but the businessman is not unduly worried about the looming threat of Brexit.
“I firmly believe the British will come to an agreement with the EU but this could take up to two years. We have had great support from Enterprise Ireland in relation to our plans for Brexit but also from when we started the business in 2012, they have been phenomenal.”
Westbake supplies muffins and cakes to most of the leading supermarket chains, including Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, Asda and Dunnes Stores.