Seaham-based Prima Cheese, one of the UK’s largest dairy food processors, has donated £2,000 to the not-for-profit, Open North Foundation, in its quest to support businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.

The sum will be administered via Open North Foundation to eligible businesses suffering as a result of Covid-19 and who it is considered would deliver long term, positive economic impact and also create high quality jobs, if they were supported.

Established in 1996, Prima Cheese, specialises in cheese processing, predominantly used for pizzas. It supplies 75% of its 600 tonne a week production output within the domestic market and 25% by export to over 50 countries.

In recent years, the company has grown to a team of 150 and has expanded its premises, spread across 13 departments, to include a gallery with impressive views of its production line, a breakout coffee area and open plan space for its transport, IT, export and UK sales teams plus, an extended warehouse and loading bays.

As well as making a financial donation to assist North East businesses in need of support, commercial director, Nagma Ebanks-Beni, headlined a recent Open North Foundation fundraising webinar ‘Surviving in Difficult Times’ discussing the social and economic benefits of encouraging diversity and inclusion in the workplace, an appropriate and important topic since her appointment as chair of the race, equality and discrimination commission by the North East England Chamber of Commerce.

Nima Beni, director, Prima Cheese, said: “We are proud to support Open North Foundation. It has been a difficult time for many companies and as a growing North East business, we wanted to offer our support in the rebuilding of the local economy and, therefore, felt compelled to contribute.

“We completed a long and difficult 24 month facility upgrade and machinery investment project in February this year, just before the lockdown in March, so are acutely aware how the pandemic can impact business without warning or preparation, and really wanted to contribute to easing some of that financial stress to other businesses in the region who are in the hardest hit sectors.”

Richard Swart, chair of the Open North Foundation, said: “We thank Prima Cheese for its very generous donation and for its continued support for Open North Foundation.

“We rely on the collective effort of the North East business community to help one another in what is set to be a very tough year ahead.

“Now, more than ever, is the time for businesses who can and are in a position to help, to come forward and assist those businesses which are in need.”