Details have emerged that a company reportedly set up by two former 2 Sisters Food Group employees, Food Utopia Ltd, has agreed to buy the business and take over its ownership.
Christopher Evans, councillor for Rogerstone, south Wales, where the factory is situated, reacted cautiously to the news on Twitter, tweeting: “Been chatting to workers and friends, I think we need clarification as to new owners plans, but, workers seem hopeful.”
Then in a separate tweet (see below): “Let’s hope the new owners of #Avana secure our workers jobs/futures #Loyalty.”
FoodManufacture.co.uk understands some workers have concerns about long term job security, as they believe major production contracts for the plant are set to expire within a few months.
One source claimed no new business had yet been secured beyond that at the time this article was first published. However, they believed the new bosses had close relationships with at least one of the top supermarkets and had concrete ideas for new product development.
Gary Johnston, organising regional secretary for the Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “When they can come up with the work needed, remains to be seen. We have spoken to the Welsh government and they will keep an eye on it. I think at the minute we will keep positive, but I think we can’t go on what should be – we can only hope for the best.”
2 Sisters is reported to have issued a statement, saying: “Avana Bakeries is pleased to announce the sale of its food processing site in Newport.
“It is proposed to operate the business under a new company, Food Utopia Ltd, which will aim to secure continuing operations. We will now commence the TUPE [Transfer of Undertakings] transfer process of colleagues.
“There will be a transition period as existing customer contracts transfer to the new company.”
Efforts to find alternatives to the closure of the Avana Bakeries site and secure future employment for staff have continued since 2 Sisters floated plans in February to cut 650 jobs there. That followed news it had lost a major Marks & Spencer contract to Park Cakes.
In April, 2 Sisters confirmed its intention to close the factory, but this latest development may mean it could continue.
Estimates vary regarding the number of people currently employed by the site, with reports ranging from more than 400 to 552.
The Office of Fair Trading cleared 2 Sisters’ acquisition of Premier Foods’ Brookes Avana business, including the Newport factory, in October 2012.