A company statement issued to FoodManufacture.co.uk said: “After much consideration, we have made the difficult decision to enter into a consultation period on the proposed reduction of a potential 28 bakery operative roles at our Variety bakery in Bolton.
“The decision is the result of a decline in demand for bread rolls made at the site and a proposed circa £1M investment in new automated packing machinery, which will bring the bakery in line with the rest of the business.”
Warburtons said that all 111 employees at the site have been briefed as of February 26, although it is expected that 28 jobs would be affected. The company is now entering a 30-day consultation period in which it will work with its employees and their representatives to explore all available options.
‘Very difficult decision’
The statement said the “very difficult decision” had been made to support the future of the business by enabling Warburtons to maximise its manufacturing capacity and produce its products more efficiently.
The company said it was committed to growth and staying competitive, which meant it had to continue to invest in new technology and bake a range of products that met the change in consumer needs, tastes and lifestyles.
Jonathan Warburton, chairman and ceo, said: “Making tough decisions like this, which have a big impact on people’s lives, is not easy for a family firm. But we must act as a responsible business and be prepared to take these tough decisions, at the right time, so we can ensure Warburtons remains competitive and has a successful future.
“The proposed changes are designed to make our manufacturing operations more efficient and flexible to help better meet the ever changing demands of our customers and consumers across the UK.
“We appreciate how tough a period this is for our employees at our Variety bakery in Bolton and we will work closely with them and their representatives to discuss our proposal and explore all available options.”
Staff will be represented by the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU).
Geoff Atkinson, BFAWU organising regional secretary, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “There is a branch meeting today (March 2) for the staff and union to discuss how we are going to approach the announcement by the company. Our first consultation will be held on March 11.”
Meanwhile, the Real Bread Campaign (RBC) claimed that Warburtons had only just responded to concerns raised nine months ago regarding the number of loaves the baker marketed using the word ‘wholemeal’ or ‘wholegrain’.
According to the RBC, the baker had now stated that its ‘White Plus Wholegrain’ does contain some wholegrain flour.
The RBC has published a revised version of its report ‘A wholegrain of truth?’, which included an ingredients list supplied by Warburtons for its ‘White Plus Wholegrain’ that indicated 30% Wholegrain (Wholemeal Flour and Oat Flour).
The RBC said in a statement: “Our concerns about ‘White Plus Wholegrain’ arose as neither the word ‘wholegrain’ or ‘wholemeal’ appeared on a list of ingredients and artificial additives retrieved by the Campaign from a third-party website.
“The campaign included this list in the email of questions it sent to Warburtons’ customer care team on June 1 2012. Warburtons did not take this opportunity, or those provided by the Campaign’s follow up emails of June 15 and June 29, to supply its own list, to answer any of the Campaign’s questions or to provide information to allay any of the concerns raised.
“Warburtons finally supplied its own list of ingredients for the loaf in question on February 28 2013, the day after the Campaign published ‘A wholegrain of truth?’ The company however still did not answer the rest of the Campaign’s questions, which can be found in the report.”