Burton's Foods revises Moreton closure plans

By Anne Bruce

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Burton's foods Burton’s foods

Burton's Foods revises Moreton closure plans
Local MP Angela Eagle has slammed Burton's Foods as "disloyal" after it announced today that it was going ahead with closing its biscuit factory in Moreton.

Burton’s Foods said it had agreed to union proposals that will save its chocolate refining operation at Moreton, but the site's biscuit facility will close on December 2, with 219 jobs set to be lost.

Eagle (pictured) told FoodManufacture.co.uk that she was "extremely angry and disappointed​" by the news. "There has been a long tradition of biscuit manufacture at the site and that is to be snuffed out. The company should have shown more loyalty to staff which have been loyal to it. This is a huge blow to the area."

Consultation over

The news follows a Burton’s Foods consultation on its plans to close the site​, outsourcing chocolate refining and moving biscuit production to its other sites in Edinburgh and Llantarnum.

Trade union Unite put forward proposals to maintain the chocolate side of the operation, and to invest in facilities rather than outsourcing production during that consultation period.

Burton's has now agreed to retain 51 staff on the chocolate refining side of the business and plans to invest £2.8m in that operation, in a move welcomed by Unite.

Unite regional officer Ritchie James said: "The plan to invest £2.8 million of capital investment into the plant will future proof job security for as long as can reasonably be expected.

However, it is disappointing and upsetting that we have not succeeded in saving the whole site and the 219 jobs that will be lost. This is just the latest in a series of disappointments for the workforce and devastating news for its community."

The union had also proposed to retain a seasonal biscuit assortment packing operation at the site, but Burton’s Foods said today that it had rejected this idea, saying that it was commercially unviable.

This packing will be outsourced to DHL resulting in a proposed TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment) transfer of up to 58 staff to the logistics giant's Liverpool site.

Not a viable option

Angela Eagle, Labour MP for Wallasey said: "A lot of the packing staff won't be able to get to the DHL site which is 20 miles away. It is not a viable option in their circumstances."

She added: "The best thing the company can do, given what it has done to the local community, is to sell the site on for industrial use at a generous price in the hope that new jobs will be created in the area. We do not want to see a housing development."

Stressing cost pressures and the need to operate more efficiently, Burton’s Foods ceo Ben Clarke told FoodManufacture.co.uk in mid January that Moreton was “the smallest site with the highest cost base, which is why we have chosen it ​[for closure].”

Burtons, which makes Maryland Cookies, Jammie Dodgers, Wagon Wheels and own-label biscuits, plus Cadbury-branded products under licence, is owned by Apollo Global Management, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and private equity firm Duke Street Capital.

The firm, which has its HQ in St Alban's, has four UK factories in Blackpool, Moreton, Edinburgh and Llantarnum.

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