Ashfield faces loss of 300 more jobs as food firm heads for closure

Welcome Foods in Huthwaite is confirmed for closure - losing 300 positions. (Image: Google)
Welcome Foods in Huthwaite is confirmed for closure - losing 300 positions. (Image: Google)
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Some 300 employees may face redundancy as Huthwaite food processor Welcome Foods sets course for closure.

Bakkavor Foods United, based in London, has written to employees of the Huthwaite processing plant informing that the major employer in Brookside Way is 'no longer viable' and the decision has been taken to 'propose' the closure of the site, subject to consultation of employees and unions.

In the letter to employees seen by the Chad, bosses at the company said they conducted a review into the potential ceasing of operations at the site, and confirmed it has decided to close the site.

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A mandatory period of consultation will allow discussion with unions and if no solution is found to keep the company going, it will close and some staff will be made redundant.

The letter said: "For some time the business has been impacted by difficult trading conditions in a highly competitive market place. Following the loss of a number of customer contracts the management has concluded that the business is no longer commercially viable."

Notice has not been serviced to the employees but mandatory consultation has started to explore options for alternative work with the company before it announces the official closure, and the letter told employees 'it is possible that your position may become redundant.'

The international group Bakkavor operates in the UK, USA, Spain and China, producing food products for the like of Tesco, Sainsbury's and M&S.

It put out a press release on February 22 states the firm has been refinancing, taking out £485 million to consolidate loans and reduce interest costs, and measured annual revenues of £1.28 billion in September 2016, a rise of 3 per cent.

But it said the Huthwaite plant, which has produced dressings and sauces for clients since 1994 and was bought by the group in 2007, was affected by local factors.

A spokesperson from Welcome Foods said: "Bakkavor Group can confirm it is entering into a period of consultation with employees at Welcome Foods in Huthwaite, Nottinghamshire with regard to ceasing all operations at the site.

"For some time now Welcome Foods has been impacted by difficult trading conditions. The Group has explored a number of different options to sustain the business but has now concluded Welcome Foods is no longer commercially viable. Therefore our proposal is to cease operations at Welcome Foods and transfer production to other Bakkavor sites which have similar product synergies.

"The consultation process will last at least 45 days during which time the business will be working closely with the SEF Representatives and Unite, the recognised union for the site. This will include considering all representations made on behalf of the Company’s employees.

"If our proposal goes ahead, we will make significant efforts to assist staff in finding alternative employment in the local area and relocate staff wherever possible within Bakkavor Group.

"We would like to thank all of our employees for their commitment and professionalism during this difficult time. We will work closely with the representatives to keep employees appropriately updated throughout the consultation period.”

The news of a possible 300 more jobs to be lost in Ashfield follows announcements of 270 other positions being axed as both the DWP and manufacturing firm Prolog made announcements of in February.

Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero said: “It is very disappointing to hear that Bakkavor is entering a consultation about the potential closure of its Huthwaite factory.

“I am meeting with bosses at the company in a couple of weeks to learn more about the situation and talk about the next steps.

“I will be doing all I can to keep these jobs in Ashfield and hope a solution in order to do so can be found.

"If any employee wants to email me in confidence with any concerns, please do so on gloria.depiero.mp@parliament.uk."