Solway Foods Corby to close, 2 Sisters confirms

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sisters food group, Employment

2 Sisters' Solway Foods factory in Corby employs more than 900 people
2 Sisters' Solway Foods factory in Corby employs more than 900 people
2 Sisters Food Group has confirmed the closure of its Solway Foods factory in Corby, Northamptonshire, which employs more than 900 people, will go ahead.

The company announced in February proposals to close the site​, which it took on when it bought Northern Foods in 2011. It claimed the facility was unviable, because of the amount of upgrading it required.

A taskforce comprising representatives of the Local Enterprise Partnerships, local authorities and the Department for Business Innovation & Skills was set up to work with 2 Sisters on finding alternatives to the closure. However, no solution was found that satisfied its requirements, despite the county council offering the firm financial assistance to secure a newer alternative factory in the area.

2 Sisters is believed to be looking at winding up production this summer, but has not set a definite date.

Corby MP Andy Sawford even backed a House of Commons Early Day Motion (EDM), tabled on March 25, supporting efforts of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union to protect its members’ jobs. 2 Sisters is understood to be one of Corby’s biggest employers.

The EDM, which 19 MPs have signed to date, stated: That this House notes with great concern the closure of Solway Foods’ Corby site, owned by 2 Sisters Food Group, with the loss of approximately 900 jobs.”

‘Unviable’

The House “regrets that management have referred to the site as unviable and refused to commit to the long-term future of the business in Corby, despite the council’s offer of financial assistance with relocating to an upgraded facility elsewhere in the area …”

The taskforce, steered by Sawford and Corby Borough Council leader councillor Thomas Beattie, has linked Solway Foods workers up with local employers through job fairs in partnership with Job Centre Plus. As a result, many of them had the potential to secure further employment, Beattie told FoodManufacture.co.uk.

“Our objective is to provide as much support to workers as possible,”​ he said. “There was a job fair two weeks ago. About 28 local employers turned up to that, with more than 500 vacancies.”

In addition, he said Greencore, which was expanding nearby production facilities, held a separate fair advertising 200 job vacancies and other opportunities also existed.

“Had this happened 12’18 months ago it would have been much more difficult to absorb,”​ Beattie said. “It’s a sign there is an economic recovery going on, but as Solway shows it’s patchy.”

2 Sisters had supported these initiatives, he said, although he didn’t believe it had sufficiently considered options other than closure.

‘Undermining job security’

The EDM noted other recently announced proposals to close 2 Sisters’ Avana Bakeries site​ at Newport in Wales, and proposed redundancies elsewhere. As a result, it claimed 2 Sisters ceo Ranjit Boparan appears deliberately to be undermining job security, pay and conditions of employees of the companies he has acquired”.

However, Beattie conceded: “They showed members of the taskforce around the Corby site and I have to say it didn’t look like a modern production facility to me … I do believe the existing site needed significant investment and they would have found it difficult to bring it up to the standard they needed.”

A 2 Sisters spokesman said: “We continue to work hard with the Corby taskforce and all our stakeholders to minimise the impact of the closure of the site on our colleagues.

“The response to our recent jobs fair was overwhelming, and the offer of new openings from other employers in Corby is extremely encouraging.

​This has been a very challenging time for everyone, but we are committed to continue talking with the Bakers’ Union, the taskforce and our people to bring about the most positive outcome possible for as many of our colleagues as we can.”

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