'200 families face a very bleak time' this Christmas, says trade union

Heinz 'deeply disappointed' as it proposes closure of Aunt Bessie’s potato factory

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Heinz's license to manufacture Aunt Bessie's potato products will soon expire, prompting the proposed closure
Heinz's license to manufacture Aunt Bessie's potato products will soon expire, prompting the proposed closure

Related tags: Heinz, H. j. heinz company

Heinz has announced proposals for the closure of its Westwick factory in the UK, which employs 200 people, and says it regrets the impact on the local community. 

The company’s license to manufacture Aunt Bessie’s frozen potato products for the William Jackson Food Group will not be renewed at its end in April 2015, prompting the proposed closure of the factory in North Walsham. 

With the license going to an alternative supplier, Heinz says there is not sufficient manufacturing volume to keep the factory operational.

Production at the factory is expected to cease between February and April next year.

Heinz 'fully appreciates and regrets' impact on community

A statement from Heinz UK says it is ‘deeply disappointed to have to make this announcement.’

“The closure proposal is only being made after thoroughly exploring extensive alternatives and options,” ​the company said.

“Heinz fully appreciates and regrets the impact this proposal may have on employees and the local community. It is not a reflection of the commitment of our employees or the quality of the Aunt Bessie’s products they have made since 1999.

“The proposal is subject to a 45 day consultation process with representatives of Heinz Westwick employees. During this period we will consider suggestions made by employee representatives and will continue to explore alternatives to avoid or limit the impact of a potential closure.

“We will also continue to explore all opportunities to find a buyer for the factory.”

Devastating news close to Christmas, says Unite

Trade union Unite is urging Heinz to think again and find a better option than closure.

Julia Long, national officer with responsibility for food manufacturing at Unite, said, “This is devastating news for the workforce, and so close to Christmas. 200 families face a very bleak time unless we can persuade Heinz to think again. 

“It is particularly concerning that Heinz is planning only 45 days to consult on its closure plans.  This is a direct consequence of the current government’s law change which allows companies to walk away from communities in a matter of weeks.  We would urge Heinz to think again and work with us to find another solution.” 

Heinz UK and Ireland

Aunt Bessie’s potato range includes roast potatoes, chips and crinkle chips, and croquettes.

The Westwick factory opened in 1948, and was acquired by HJ Heinz in 2000. Heinz spent £10.8m on the 45,527m2 ​site from 2007 as part of ‘Project Trafalgar.’

Heinz currently employs approximately 2,500 people in the UK and Ireland. Its main food manufacturing facility is in Kitt Green, near Wigan. It also has factories in Telford, Worcester, Kendal, and Dundalk (Ireland). 

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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1 comment


Posted by Bill Gates,

Unions are pushing and pushing and pushing wages up until they become unsustainable, then they go public and pretend to be there for the workers, I have to laugh, the only goal the unions have is to justify their existence, at all costs.
In Australia, we are loosing our manufacturing base largely because multinationals are leaving for countries with cheaper labor.
And the unions are a big cause of this problem.
So, well done all you workers, with all the support you give to the unions, you do yourself out of a job and then the blame game starts.

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