Executives from the factory owner Wessex Foods and its parent group Irish Food Processors (IFP) had been scouring the area for a viable short-term site to safeguard jobs, but without any success, a spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk
"We have tried hard to find a suitable site for operations in the local area, but with no success. So the company has called [the 150] staff in and informed them that a 90-day consultation period has now begun.”
Possible job losses
Asked if this meant that potential redundancies were in the offing, he added, “Yes – staff have been warned that this might be a possible outcome.”
Last week Wessex Foods informed Lowestoft staff, who are unable to work due to the fire, that it would continue to pay their wages until further notice.
No decision has been taken on whether to rebuild the burnt-out factory, which the firm claimed was the largest frozen foods processing unit in UK. It produced burgers and mince for multiple retailers and food service clients such as Burger King.
A statement released by Wessex Foods said: “IFP is still in the process of assessing all options and no decisions have been taken on the future of the Lowestoft site.”
The fire took three days to quell, and at its height drew over 100 fire-fighters and two air support units. They worked throughout the night of July 11 to stop flames reaching a nearby supermarket with attached petrol station and other retail units.
Immediately after the fire, the company said: “It’s a bleak day for Wessex Foods since we’ve invested substantially in the factory since 1996 and it was state of the art.”
The firm’s website claims that Wessex Foods produces 60% of the UK’s frozen retail mince and 16,500t of frozen burgers annually.
Wessex Foods is part of Irish Food Processors group (IFP), one of Europe’s leading meat processors with a turnover in excess of €1bn.