A poultry plant which will create more than 150 jobs has been officially opened.

Welsh Government cabinet members Lesley Griffiths, AM for Wrexhamm and Ken Skates (Clwyd South) joined Cllr John Pritchard, the Mayor of Wrexham, at Maelor Foods in Cross Lanes.

The plant was built on the site of the former First Milk Creamery factory, which closed in 2014. After an investment of more than £20m, Maelor Foods will begin processing poultry towards the end of the year.

The new plant has already created more than 70 jobs and recruitment is ongoing for new roles including senior management, skilled jobs in engineering, technical, butchery and administrative personnel and drivers along with production operatives.

Maelor Foods will eventually employ more than 150 people. It is also supporting jobs in the supply chain with farmers as suppliers.

The Welsh Government awarded £3.15m grant for the process centre from the Food Business Investment Scheme which is designed to provide support to businesses that are involved in first and/or second stage processing activities.

Managing director Raj Mehta said the visit marked the culmination of an extensive refurbishment and extension programme, which has involved remodelling the buildings to create a state-of-the-art poultry production and slaughtering unit.

He added: “The support of the Welsh Assembly helped to unlock the redevelopment of the site and fill the employment gap left when First Milk closed down.

“We are actively looking for more farmers to supply us with birds as we head towards working at our operational capacity.

“As well as creating jobs for local people during the refurbishment and with the new roles we are introducing, we’re very pleased to be supporting the wider supply chain in the agriculture sector.

“We are actively looking for more farmers to supply us with birds.

“We held two open days in October for farmers and received a very enthusiastic response from visitors who were very impressed with the facility and wanted to learn more about becoming suppliers.”

Lesley Griffiths, cabinet secretary for energy, planning and rural Affairs, said: “Maelor Foods is an ambitious business that is set to play a leading role in the poultry industry.

“It will see the creation of 150 new jobs and is supported through our Food Business Investment Scheme.

“Our Food and Drink Action Plan has a target to grow the Welsh food and drink sector to a value of £7 billion by the year 2020 and I am confident the sector is now in a position to attain this.

“This has been achieved by putting business at the heart of all our plans in Wales.

“Inward investment by businesses such as Maelor Foods is a key factor in realising this target.”

Cllr John Pritchard said: “It’s wonderful to see the redevelopment of the old site and the creation of new job opportunities in the county corough.”

Maelor Foods is associated with Midlands-based Salisbury Poultry, one of the leaders in the UK’s poultry processing sector.

MD Mr Mehta summed up: “We are very pleased the our long term vision for Maelor Foods is becoming a reality.

“We have to thank the Welsh Assembly Government and Wrexham Council for their support in helping us to reach this point and bringing much needed employment back to the area.

“With our pedigree and experience in the sector, we have been able to develop a facility that will operate with the same ethos and high standard of service that we have built our reputation on.

“We have exciting plans for future growth that will bring more economical benefits to Wrexham and the Welsh economy.”