CELEBRITY businesswoman Heather Mills will be the keynote speaker at a business conference in the region this autumn.

Ms Mills, who has expanded her vegan food company VBites by opening two sites in the North East, will give an insight into her entrepreneurial journey at the Engineering and Manufacturing Network’s flagship EMCON event in October.

Her original manufacturing site is located in Corby, Northamptonshire, with an additional allergen free plant in Benton.

Last year VBites bought the former Walkers Crisps factory, in Peterlee, and recently added the Proctor and Gamble plant, in Seaton Delaval, to its portfolio.

At the EMCON at the Xcel Centre, in Newton Aycliffe, on Thursday, October 10, Ms Mills will outline her plans for the area– which includes creating 200 to 300 jobs– talk about why she chose to extend her vegan empire here, and her thoughts on the future of the business and its plans for growth.

She will also take part in this year’s industry leaders’ panel debate, organised by EMN in conjunction with Jackson Hogg Recruitment, the event’s delivery partner. The debate will include a question and answer session which enables the audience to participate.

David Land, chairman of EMN, said: “There’s been a huge and understandable level of interest from the business community around the opening of the VBites manufacturing facility in Peterlee so we’re delighted to have secured Ms Mills as our keynote speaker at EMCON 2019.

“It’s a real coup for our event to secure someone of Ms Mills’ profile and will certainly generate a new level of excitement around the event.

“We’re also delighted to confirm that Ms Mills will participate in the panel debate and question and answer session over lunch. This has been a popular addition to EMCON however with Ms Mills as part of the line up, we expect tickets to be booked up very quickly as people are genuinely interested in what she has to say and her plans to grow the vegan business in our region.”

VBites and Ms Mills develop designs on machinery innovation in the plant-based meat and dairy and fish free sector, which Ms Mills believes is the future of food.

Stadler Rail UK is the event’s main sponsor, Jackson Hogg Recruitment is thedelivery partner and Business Durham maintains its gold sponsorship status. Other sponsors include GOM and Horizonworks, Lumo Tax Consultants and E-max Systems. For details visit emcon.show