Headland Foods factory could be saved

By Graham Holter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Kerry foods, Food

Headland Foods has a second site in Grimsby
Headland Foods has a second site in Grimsby
Staff at Headland Foods’ factory in Flint – scheduled for closure in April – could be thrown a lifeline following reports that a food manufacturing company is interested in buying the plant.

The move could rescue some or all of the 318 jobs which will be lost when owner Kerry Foods shuts down the ready meals production facility next month.

Details of the potential bidder remain sketchy. But local Conservative councillor Matt Wright, executive member for regeneration and tourism on Flintshire Council, confirmed to FoodManufacture.co.uk that there was some interest in the site.

Local media reports suggest the factory is being targeted by a food business from north Wales, with speculation that Wrexham-based Rowan Foods (part of Ferndale Foods along with Chard-based Oscar Mayer) could be in the frame.

Rowan Foods: no comment

However, the company remained tight-lipped, and a spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk this morning that it has “absolutely nothing to say at the moment”​ on the rumours; ​Ferndale Foods produces around two million ready meals a week.

Headland Foods’ Flint factory is one of two acquired by Kerry Foods in December, with the site already earmarked for closure when the deal with Headland was done.

Wright told local paper The Leader: “We want to save these jobs. I really want Kerry to be responsive to the company who wishes to move in to save these jobs. Time is important, and delay and drift makes it hard to hold facilities and people together.”

Kerry spokesman Frank Hayes said: "We don't actually own the site. We have acquired certain assets of the business and once we vacate the site later in the summer it will revert to Headland Foods." ​He added he understood there had been "some interest in the site for alternative uses"​ but as this was a matter for Headland (now a non-operational company), rather than Kerry, he declined to comment further.

Redundancy payments

Last month some employees at the Flint site expressed concern​ that they risked jeopardising redundancy payments from Kerry Foods if they took other jobs before the factory closed.

Kerry said it would try to help workers find alternative employment, either locally or at another UK facility, but is under no legal obligation to make payouts to staff who leave before the factory closes.

A spokesman stressed that the firm’s prime obligation is to maintain production at Flint to fulfil customer orders.

Related topics: Chilled foods

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