A spokesman for site owner Premier Foods said the firm was planning a “significant investment” in the future of the British Bakeries site – which employs around 300 staff – focused on the automation of site bakery processes with the aim of securing “better quality, reduced waste and improved customer service”.
"These investments in new equipment and processes will be supported by investment in skills training among the workforce although, regrettably, the planned changes will result in a reduction to the number of manufacturing jobs at the site,” he said.
"Precise details are still to be worked out and the company is in formal consultation with employees and their representatives on its proposals.”
Long-term site future secure
A spokesman for the Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the union had just begun a 90-day consultation process with Premier Foods over the proposed changes.
“We’re engaged in the 90-day consultation process at the moment and intend to save jobs. Premier Foods is investing in new technology that will secure the long-term future of the site, and that’s the good news.
“Unfortunately, computerisation etc., reduces the need for human labour so there will be some job losses.” Asked how many staff he believed could be affected, he added: “We don’t know at the moment, but potentially quite a considerable number, quite a few. But I can’t say too much because we’re arguing about numbers at the moment.”
Premier Foods’ Hovis margins have been hit by soaring flour prices in recent months, with milling division Rank Hovis bemoaning a 70% year-on-year rise in raw material costs last September, although Hovis did post a 26 per cent increase in 2010 profits.