Wholesale redundancies were likely among the 600 workers at Ferndale Foods following the firm’s loss of its main supply deal with Asda, said finance director Graham Melia.
“We are not sore losers, but Asda is effectively putting up to 600 people in an economically deprived area out of a job,” he said. “Had we known that this was coming last year, we might have had time to get another customer.”
Melia said that Ferndale’s trip to Thailand with Asda in May to visit a potential raw materials supplier was hardly the action of a company that knew the writing was on the wall. But Asda, which told Ferndale at the end of June of its decision to switch to Northern Foods, claimed it had been kept fully informed of the progress of a tender evaluation, which began in spring 2004. “It’s a bit disingenuous of them to say they had no idea the business might land up with someone else,” it said. “We haven’t done the dirty on them. We even extended the notice period to phase out their withdrawal over five months, not the original three. We also gave Ferndale the opportunity to make an extra presentation to keep our business, but all they offered was a cost price increase of £2m.”