Adams Foods has confirmed the closure of its Wincanton cheese packing plant in Somerset, putting 180 jobs at risk.
The firm has been in talks with the workforce since last month following a fire, which devastated the plant in September.
Last week the consultation was brought to an early close with confirmation that operations would move to the firm’s Leek facility in Staffordshire.
The mayor of Wincanton, Colin Winder, told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the town was “absolutely devastated” by the news. “It’s especially harmful in the present economical climate. There’s a knock-on effect on everything. Shops in the centre of town are seeing fewer pounds spent because the workers are not spending,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Adams said the decision was made, in part, because of the spare capacity the firm had at its Leek facility. Also, the Wincanton facility would require considerable additional investment to remain operational. At least 50 of the 180 jobs at Wincanton are expected to move to Leek, she added.
Staff will be offered double the statutory redundancy payment, provided certain conditions are met.
Wincanton Council is interviewing all of Adams Foods’ employees and working with employment agencies to try to secure new jobs.
Accept the French
Winder said he was hopeful a new tenant could be attracted for the site because only one packaging line was destroyed. “This area is a centre of cheese manufacturing so hopefully we will be able to get someone in [to replace Adams Foods]. We’d even accept the French,” he said.
In 2010, Adams announced a multi-million pound investment to build a new factory at its Leek headquarters.
The Wincanton plant was built in 1989 by North Downs Dairy to meet increased demand after the launch of its Pilgrims Choice brand.
Adams Foods was launched in October 2010 following the merger between Kerrygold and North Downs Dairy.