TEA company Tetley is creating a "significant" number of jobs in the Tees Valley area following a period of investment in its flagship manufacturing site.

Tetley employs more than 600 people at the world's biggest tea factory in Eaglescliffe, near Yarm.

Yesterday, the company announced plans to expand its workforce on Teesside as part of a drive to expand the Tetley brand and double its £207.6m turnover.

No exact figure could be put on the number of jobs Tetley expects to create, but a spokesperson said it would be "significant".

Plant manager Mark Cooper said: "Our strategic decision to implement an organisational change highlights our commitment to the area and will help equip us in our objective as a company to double in size over the next five years."

Tetley has already invested heavily in its Eaglescliffe factory, which produces in excess of 18 billion tea bags every year - enough to stretch around the planet more than 20 times.

The company is now working with Newcastle recruitment consultancy Nigel Wright in view of taking on a number of area managers and manufacturing engineers.

The recruitment process is being managed by senior consultant Alistair Moore, who said: "Tetley has invested a lot in the site - in equipment and infrastructure - over the last few years to make sure they are leading edge in terms of technology.

"What they are doing now is investing in people and its future, because they are planning to double sales in the coming years. The amount of money Tetley is prepared to invest shows that its long term plan is to stay here in the region."

Tetley has been in business for more than 160 years. It is the number one brand in both the UK and Canada, number two in Australia and three in the US. It sells a range of more than 60 branded teas to more than 40 countries.

The company, which employs almost 1,000 people in ten countries, is part of Tata Tea, which itself a part of the Tata Group, one of India's largest business corporations.

The Tata Group comprises 96 operating companies including Tata Steel - a key player in the bidding war for the world's eighth largest steel producer, Corus, which employs more than 3,000 people in the North-East.