Workers at the firm’s sliced bread factory in Walsall are facing redundancies next March after Maple Leaf’s decision to close the site.
However, the firm said it was “very hopeful” that a deal will be struck that will enable the staff to keep their jobs but it could not rule out the possibility of redundancies.
Maple Leaf, which currently owns bagel firm, the New York Bakery, is moving away from the sliced bread market and shifting its focus towards the speciality breads sector at its factory in Rotherham, Yorkshire.
Paul Clipson, HR director at the firm, told Food Manufacture.co.uk: “We are in discussions with a number of interested parties who are considering buying the site. We very much hope we find a buyer who will continue to use the factory in its current set up.”
It was too early to reveal the names of the interested parties but the firm was doing everything it could to ensure that staff would be retained under the new owner, he added.
But Clipson was unable to guarantee that no jobs would be lost after the firm ends its activity at the site in March.
He said: “Should we not find a buyer that can do this [retain staff in their current roles] we will still be moving from the site and will be offering staff a redundancy package.”
The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) said it was battling to ensure staff were given more than statutory redundancy pay but that it was hoping for a more positive outcome.
John Higgins, organising regional secretary at BFAWU, told Food Manufacture.co.uk: “The one thing we hope is that a buyer comes in. The company has a very experienced workforce.”
The union is now battling to secure appropriate redundancy packages, as well as further training opportunities, financial advice and all-round support for the staff.
“Hopefully Maple Leaf is not going to leave staff with statutory redundancy payments as some of the staff have been there for about 25 years and deserve more”, Higgins added.
Of the 236 staff currently employed at the factory, 190 are paid on an hourly rate with the rest being made up of management and technical staff.
Meanwhile, last week the firm announced an expansion of its New York Bakery site in Rotherham as part of a £11.5M investment and a further £3M communications project.
The firm said it was too early to confirm how many jobs would be created as a result of the expansion.