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Dancing goes on for sauce makers; Troubled chilli brand saved by new owner.

Byline: Brian Daniel

CHILLI sauce will still be made in Northumberland after a new owner stepped in to take over production. Trees Can't Dance, a chilli sauce producer based near Haltwhistle in Northumberland, has been rescued by John Pike - who helped set up and run both Phileas Fogg foods and Union Snack.

The new owner hopes to create jobs in Haltwhistle as plans for a new factory are finalised. Troubled food company Trees Can't Dance, set up by Dan May of West Unthank Farm, Unthank, went into liquidation around the turn of the year in circumstances which neither Mr May nor Mr Pike would discuss.

Experienced food factory boss Mr Pike, 58, who lives at Hexham, had been helping Mr May deal with receivers and said he was prepared to put up cash to rescue the company.

But it soon became apparent their efforts had failed. Mr Pike then approached the receivers with a plan to form a new company, TCD Foods Ltd, of which he is chairman and major shareholder. His new venture retains the Trees Can't Dance brand and will continue to produce its range of chilli sauces and marinades.

Mr Pike has already secured an office and warehouse on Haltwhistle Industrial Estate and is aiming to be up and running on around March 1. Speaking to The Journal, he said: "Trees Can't Dance went into liquidation earlier this year and was bought by TCD Foods.

"I am able to tell you that Trees Can't Dance brand products are unaffected and are now being marketed by TCD Foods.

"We are supplying and will continue to supply customers both regionally, and throughout the rest of the UK, with the finest chilli sauces, marinades and pickles available under the Trees Can't Dance label.

"TCD are investing in the Trees Can't Dance brand and will take our much-loved North East brand from the Tyne Valley to the tables of households across the UK.

"TCD Foods Ltd is opening new premises in Haltwhistle and anticipates a number of new jobs at this site.

"The investment in the Trees Can't Dance brand will not only allow our loyal customers to continue to buy the current range of sauces and marinades but also a range of new and exciting products later in 2010."

Speaking last night, Mr Pike, who has now sold Union Snack, hinted at what had contributed to the demise of the original company.

"There is a horrible funding gap in the lower sums of money field of things," he said. "I think life is very tough for speciality brands at the minute. So many of the multiples and consumers are based on price.

"Products like this are never going to be the cheapest.

"The consumer tends to be focused on value products."

Mr May, formerly of Dykehead, Coanwood, would only confirm that the original company had gone into liquidation last month.

He said: "The current company that is taking it forward is taking it forward in massive strides."


MADE IN THE NORTH EAST The Trees Can't Dance brand BUILDING UP BRAND Dan May set up the Trees Can't Dance company but it went into liquidation around the turn of the year
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 16, 2010
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