PORRIDGE firm Stoats is poised to bulk up its production capabilities with a new factory as it prepares to take a bigger bite out of the retail market.

The move to a new 22,000 sq ft headquarters in Loanhead, Midlothian, takes in bakery, sales, marketing and operations and allows the Edinburgh company to increase the manufacture of its best-selling porridge oat bars.

It currently makes more than nine million of the snacks every year, along with oatcakes and other porridge products.

New deals with major supermarkets including Tesco and Sainsbury’s, as well as wholesalers Bidfood and Brakes, means the company expects to achieve a £10 million turnover within three years.

Managing director Tony Stone said: “We have come a long way since I began baking porridge bars in our family kitchen more than 12 years ago.

“We’re thrilled to be opening our own factory, where we can invest more in developing new products in both existing and new categories, as well as own-label products.

“The new factory gives us the opportunity to realise our ambitious plans, including increasing distribution across the UK and internationally.

“We can be more agile in our approach and we’re better placed to meet the demands of retailers and consumers.”

Stone founded the independent company in 2005 with director Bob Arnott, focusing on healthy and convenient products using Scottish oats. It now exports to 12 international markets including America, the Middle East and the Belgium-Netherlands-Luxembourg Benelux bloc, and supplies domestic consumers through Aldi, Lidl, Morrison’s, Waitrose, the Co-op, Wholefoods and Dobbies.

With double-digit year-on-year growth in export sales, the company says it is still experiencing “growing success” as more consumers respond to its natural edibles.

The move to Bilston Glen Industrial Estate is supported by regional selective assistance funding and HSBC bank.

A new product development kitchen is due to open in the spring and will hold sessions on healthy eating for schools and educational groups.

The workforce will increase from 12 to 40 as a result of a recruitment drive in order to take forward plans for expansion both in the UK and overseas.

New recruits will be paid the Living Wage, and modern apprentices will also be taken on.

Councillor Russell Imrie, cabinet member for economic growth at Midlothian Council, said: “We are delighted that Stoats have decided to relocate at Loanhead, allowing them to expand their operations, invest in new products and secure local jobs.

“Stoats is a successful company that is committed to its workforce, with a reputation for quality products and with plans to grow their market share.

“They are a welcome and prestigious addition to Midlothian’s business sector.”

Susan Rowand, HSBC head of business banking in Scotland, said: “It’s fantastic to see a Scottish brand continue to expand with a new factory enabling an increase in both production and distribution.

“We were more than happy to enable Stoats to realise their UK and international growth ambitions through its new factory in Edinburgh.”