Northern Foods proposes Leeds head office closure

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Northern foods, London stock exchange, Trade union, Proposals

Northern Foods proposes Leeds head office closure
Northern Foods is proposing to close it Leeds office and move the majority of staff to its ‘shared service centre’ in Wakefield, FoodManufacture.co.uk has learnt, as owner Ranjit Boparan starts restructuring his new acquisition.

Legal and company secretarial functions will also be shifted to Birmingham, in a back office consolidation move that, a Northern Foods spokesman said, “regrettably places a small risk of employees ​[we understand the number is nine] at risk of redundancy”.

"Whilst today’s announcement regrettably brings uncertainty for some, it is a necessary part of integrating Northern Foods and 2 Sisters to ensure we make the most effective use of the office locations we have,”​ he said.

Under-utilised space

The spokesman added: “In recent years we have gradually moved much of the work from our Thorpe Park office ​[in Leeds] to other locations, principally our shared service centre in Wakefield.

“Less than 30 employees are based at Thorpe Park and the office is under-utilised, with only one fully occupied floor.

Given the acquisition of Northern Foods by Ranjit Boparan, the spokesman said that bosses had looked at the “most appropriate location for central functions” ​and proposed to relocate the finance and communications teams to Wakefield.

This would bring these teams alongside “other central functions”​ such as IT, HR and health & safety, he said.

The spokesman said he had no comment to make on Yorkshire press speculation regarding Boparan’s possible sale of Northern brands such as Matthew Walker puddings and Goodfella’s pizzas, to recover debts incurred via his £342m takeover.

Union meeting on

In March union leaders expressed concerns for the future​ of around 15,000 staff at more than 40 manufacturing sites across the new combined Northern Foods/2 Sisters Food Group business, and pressed Boparan to meet them as soon as possible.

Unite the Union national officer for food and drink Jennie Formby said this morning that she had heard yesterday that bosses are willing to meet union officials, although a date has still to be confirmed.

Boparan wrote in BH Acquisitions’ February 9 offer document for Northern that cost savings​following an operational review of the business after a takeover “could lead to office closures (or relocations) and restructuring of some parts of the combined group which could include some job losses”.

Shares in Northern Foods were delisted from the London Stock Exchange last Friday.

Related topics: Ambient foods, Bakery, Chilled foods, Frozen

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