Jobs axe falls as food firm calls time on Flintshire factory

Reporter:

Lois Hough

HUNDREDS of workers at a frozen food factory have been made redundant.

Headland Foods Ltd in Flint will axe 318 staff in mid-April and will close the Castle Park factory at the end of April, bosses confirmed yesterday.

The announcement follows a 90-day consultation period to decide the future of the site.

The company, which makes two million ready meals a week at its factories in Flint and Grimsby, Lincolnshire, was bought by Irish giant Kerry Group before Christmas.

Kerry spokesman Frank Hayes said: “Regrettably, the company has told employees that having explored all options the business has failed to identify any viable plan.

“The site will commence scaling down production in mid-April with the closure of the site scheduled to take place at the end of April.”

Mr Hayes said the frozen ready meals market was extremely competitive, with low profitability.

“The decision is arising from the fact that no other viable alternative plan could be found which would secure the future of this business in what is a highly competitive frozen ready meal industry,” he said.

Mr Hayes confirmed that two companies have shown an interest in possibly taking over the plant at Flint – one a frozen foods business, the other in chilled foods.

He said the company was making every effort to help workers find other jobs, including possible redeployment at the company’s sister factory in Grimsby, as well as at Kerry Group plants at Hyde, near Manchester, and Burton-on-Trent.

The firm is also working with Careers Wales and other agencies to identify other jobs in the area. Mr Hayes said more than 200 potential vacancies had already been identified.

Yesterday workers leaving their shift expressed sadness at the news.

One worker, who had been employed at the factory for three years, told the Leader: “There have been rumours going around the factory since before Christmas so it was more a case of when, not if, we would lose our jobs. We were called to a meeting with all the employee representatives who broke the news.

“We were told we would work until April 21 and then the factory will close shortly after.”

Flint councillor Alex Aldridge said the factory closure would have a knock-on effect on businesses in the town.

He said: “These workers will not have as much disposable income to spend and the paper shop, the shoe shop and the supermarket will all suffer.

“It’s a sinking feeling for the individuals and it is bound to have a huge psychological effect. They will no longer have to get up in the morning and have a purpose. My heart goes out to them.”

See full story in the Leader

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