Staff at Headland Foods – which operates factories in Flint and Grimsby (pictured) making ready meals for the supermarkets – learned that Headland had been acquired by Kerry Group just before Christmas.
However, a consultation over proposals to shut down the Flint operation set up in November continued, despite the change in ownership.
Kerry's corporate affairs director Frank Hayes told FoodManufacture.co.uk Flint would be scaled down from mid-April and would close by the end of April, with production transferring to Headland's more modern facility in Grimsby, which had spare capacity.
“Regrettably, having explored all opportunities the business has failed to identify an alternative plan [to closure]. The frozen ready meals sector is highly competitive with poor profitability and the way the business was configured was just not commercially viable."
Some re-deployment opportunities
There would be some new vacancies created at Grimsby plus some re-deployment opportunities at Kerry Foods sites in Hyde near Manchester and Burton-on-Trent, he added.
Kerry has a large frozen ready meals plant (Rye Valley Foods) at Carrickmacross in County Monaghan in Northern Ireland that supplies the UK retail market, said Hayes. But the acquisition of Headland has given it a presence in this sector in mainland Britain.
Tough times in frozen food
The plant at Flint is one of several UK frozen food facilities that has hit difficult times in recent months, with PoleStar Foods calling in administrators at sites at Okehampton and Leamington Spa and Longbenton Foods failing to come up with sufficient funds to keep the former Northumberland Foods site in Amble open and more recently calling a halt to production at its other factory in Benton Lane, Longbenton.