Warburtons is to close its Blackpool bread roll bakery with the loss of 55 jobs.
The plant’s 84 workers have been in a 90-day consultation period, which came to a close last week (January 2). The workers’ last day will be on January 25 and the site will close on January 31.
Warburtons attributed the closure to the “continued challenging economic environment and changing demands on our business”.
Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) regional organising secretary Geoff Atkinson told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “The site only produces bread rolls and management said it was a downturning business, which is what brought it to its decision.”
He said 16 workers have been transferred to other Warburtons sites through a process called “bumping”. This is when a company offers voluntary redundancy to workers at nearby sites. Any gaps created by this can then be filled by workers currently in a consultation period.
Atkinson said: “Some people were offered jobs with the company at its Bolton and Burnley sites and they were prepared to travel the 45–50 minute commute.”
One employee relocated to Bristol as he had family there. Others took early retirement.
55 employees redundant
The remaining 55 employees are now redundant and face a search for work in Blackpool – an area where employment is largely seasonal.
Atkinson said: “Some of the workers have 20 to 30 years of service at the site. Whole generations of families have worked there.
“In the climate we’re in today it will be very hard for them. There’s seasonal work in Blackpool but that’s about it.
“There’s a biscuit factory in the area and a couple of sweet factories but no bread baking sites.”
Jonathan Warburton, chairman and chief executive, said: “Closing a bakery is the hardest decision our family business has to make. The last year has been particularly challenging due to a number of changeable factors including further pressure on household budgets and an increasingly competitive market.
‘Stable future for the business’
“The changes to our manufacturing operations ensure we can continue to meet the demands of our customers and consumers and will ensure a stable future for the business and our 4,500 employees.”
The workers have been informed of the conclusion of the consultation. They have been offered an enhanced redundancy package.
In September last year Warburtons averted strike action across its sites nationwide by coming up with a “no strings attached” pay offer for staff.
A BFAWU representative told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the company was now offering an improved pay increase of 2.4% and a further 2.4% next year, with no changes to terms and conditions.