£1m investment in East Yorkshire bird seed manufacturing plant

Bird seed manufacturer Johnston & Jeff is flying high as it celebrates 140 years of business – with a £1 million expansion of its East Yorkshire base.

The investment in office, production and storage space comes as the premium producer approaches two decades in Gilberdyke,  having spent more than 120 years in Hull’s Old Town prior to migrating west.

It is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of high-quality feed for garden birds, parrots and aviary birds, as well as handcrafted hutches, bird tables and nest boxes.

Clients include large chain garden centres and independent pet shops across the UK, and it is making the investment due to rising demand across all of its key markets.

Johnston & Jeff’s managing director, Richard Johnston, said the expansion was the biggest investment the company has made since the relocation from the original city premises.

The investment is funding a new, 12,000 sq ft warehouse with 2,000 new pallet bays – the latter a four-fold increase on the company’s previous capacity.

Richard Johnston, managing director of Johnston & Jeff, outside the new £1 million factory expansion.
(Image: TPRC)

It will also see Johnston & Jeff build new offices on their site at Gateway Business Park, and fund new machinery including two computer-controlled multi-head weighers, a new bagging line, and a palletising robot which loads the sacks.

Mr Johnston said: “People love birds, be it pet owners whose passion is keeping aviary birds and parrots, or the people who simply want to attract more wild birds in their garden by feeding them, because of the sheer pleasure of watching them.

“As a result, we’ve seen significant growth in all our key markets and that is what has prompted us to make this investment. We’ve committed to ensuring we can continue to meet the rising demand for bird feed of the highest quality, and expanding our factory and investing in new, state-of-the-art equipment is the best way we can achieve that.”

Johnston & Jeff employ 50 staff who make around 500 tonnes of premium bird food each week, across more than 300 product lines.

The Johnston family, Richard, Fiona and Maddy, outside the new £1 million factory expansion for Johnston and Jeff at Gilberdyke.
The Johnston family, Richard, Fiona and Maddy, outside the new £1 million factory expansion for Johnston and Jeff at Gilberdyke.
(Image: TPRC)

Work is underway on the new warehouse, and once the project has been completed the business’s output is expected to rise significantly thanks to the extra capacity and the efficiencies the investment will bring.

Mr Johnston said the 140th anniversary “was a fantastic and timely opportunity to take the business to the next level”.

As part of the celebrations, the company has also launched a new, limited edition product called No Mess, No Grow Wild Bird Food, specifically formulated not to germinate when dropped on lawns, beds or borders.

Mr Johnston said: “Johnston & Jeff started life in High Street, Hull in 1880. To be still owned by the same family 140 years later and to be celebrating that with an ambitious expansion plan is a very special feeling.

“We cannot wait to share everything we have planned this year.”

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