23 June 2004

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Company sees low economic period as the right time to invest

By Julian Manduca

While the Maltese food production industry would seem to be sinking, the importers are hoping to make a killing and at least one company is set to invest in a new project to pack and sell food.
The company sees the current poor economic climate as indicating the right time to invest and in its proposal to MEPA noted that the time: “is ideal for forward looking organisations to invest in their physical infrastructure, besides being able to negotiate advantageous contracts with builders, decorators and suppliers.”
The Primrose Group of Companies has already obtained an outline permit from MEPA for the redevelopment of its currently unused storage and small scale manufacturing site at Maghtab.
The company has applied for a full development permit on a site known as the Primrose Complex, which was used in the past for the storage, including cold storage of food products; small scale production and packaging, aquaculture; maintenance and repair; administration offices and poultry breeding.
The plans are to drop the existing buildings, which are mostly vacant and in a bad state of repair and construct units for warehousing, cold storage, small scale manufacturing and repair services. According to the company’s proposal the project will be made up of 21 units and parking space for 110 cars.
The total area of the new project is expected to measure 11,781 square metres, and the company hopes to build on a surface are of 4,600 square metres and retain 7,000 square metres for circulation, parking, and landscaping. Between 63 and 105 people are expected to be employed.
Among the novel food lines to be promoted by the company is its distribution of fish and fish products. The company will be building facilities within which fish products, which have to be delivered to customers alive, can be stored and transported safely in hygienic environments.
The manufacturing activity is to mainly consist of the packaging of the products distributed by the company, and some of the units to be built will be leased to third parties.
The rationale behind the company’s expansion plans are listed in the company’s Project Description Statement prepared last month by EKO Plan for architect David P Pace and include the fact that the Maltese population is expected to grow over the next twenty years.
The company is also anticipating an increase in women’s participation in the “labour force and changes in life-styles which among other things imply increases in demand for frozen and pre-cooked foods.”
The company is also expecting more up-market tourists in Malta “as a result of the increase in the number of 4 and 5 star beds, and the efforts of Government to consolidate that sector.”
Also listed as a reason for expansion is: “the technological developments which are instigated by commercial pressures and by food and product safety, environmental and consumer protection directives/regulations adopted by the European Community and which have been or are being transposed into Maltese law.”

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Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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