Kerry to close Okehampton site in move to Tenbury

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

Kerry to close Okehampton site in move to Tenbury
Food and flavours firm Kerry Ingredients has confirmed that the closure of its Okehampton factory will be complete by the end of March 2012, with the loss of over 90 jobs. But it has also revealed expansion plans for its Tenbury Wells site, which will create 50 new jobs and double the site’s production capacity.

Employees at the Okehampton site, which makes dried and preserved fruits used in confectionery and branded cereals, were informed back in June that this was a likely outcome. At the end of September, the end of the 90-day consultation period, the firm confirmed the closure of the Devon factory and the decision to move production to Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire.

Frank Hayes, director of corporate affairs for Kerry, told : “We confirmed that scaling down would commence shortly, with a view to having completely transferred production by March 2012.

Sweet ingredients

Hayes said the decision to close the facility arose from a review of business development plans for Kerry’s sweet ingredients business.

“We have plans to facilitate future growth, but with scope for expansion at Tenbury Wells and no scope for expansion at Okehampton, it made sense to move all production to Tenbury Wells,”​ he said.

Kerry offered redeployment to all 106 staff on Okehampton’s payroll. So far, 10 have confirmed interest in relocating. To help the remainder find new employment, Kerry has enlisted professional outplacement services.

Will Mumford, Devon's cabinet member for Economy, Enterprise and Employment, told he was “disappointed”​ and ‘”frustrated”​ by the closure; the fourth in the space of a year for the town.

“It is frustrating that so many businesses have failed in the last year in Okehampton, with no consistent reason why. As a food business location, it’s pretty fantastic – we’re right on the A30 which is good for distribution.”


He added: “A further disappointment is the potential for food processors and raw material businesses to do more in terms of extracting better value from local supply chain opportunities. I think the industry would benefit from a more holistic approach rather than operating as disparate businesses.”

Regarding Kerry’s expansion plans at Tenbury Wells, the firm said that its first priority was to transfer and integrate production from Okehampton.

“The transfer of production from Okehampton to Tenbury Wells will increase output by 25%,”​ said Hayes.

This is part of a £5M investment by Kerry in expanding and upgrading the facility over the next six months.

“There will be over 50 new job opportunities once production is scaled up, and to support the future growth of the business there are plans to double the capacity over the next five years.”

The Tenbury Wells site produces sweet ingredients for application in bakery, ice cream, dairy and confectionery products.

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