Malcolm Carruthers, Carlisle regional officer for trades union Unite, told FoodManufacture.co.uk the new owner had declared its intention to continue employing all 92 staff at the site at a recent meeting.
“They certainly didn’t indicate there were going to be any job losses,” said Carruthers. In fact, it was planning to recruit a few extra professional staff in functions such as HR, he said. “Everything they said was quite positive. I think they are even looking at new products.”
Following Heinz’s £18bn takeover by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital in February 2013, and the subsequent announcement of up to 250 Heinz UK job losses, staff at many of its sites feared for their posts. News of the £100bn merger of Heinz and Kraft in March this year sparked renewed concerns.
A cloud had also been hanging over Kendal since 45 production and management positions were cut at the plant in June 2013.
As a result, Carruthers said he hoped that the takeover would give employees there fresh hope.
In a statement on the factory sale, Heinz UK & Ireland, which has run the plant for the past 21 years, said: “Heinz has reached an agreement in principle for the proposed sale of its infant formula and cereals manufacturing site in Kendal to Kendal Nutricare.
“Heinz will continue to sell its range of infant cereals as part of the total Heinz baby food range while Heinz infant formulas are made for export markets only.
Two-year co-pack arrangement
“The proposed deal is subject to contract and includes a two-year co-pack arrangement for Kendal Nutricare to manufacture Heinz infant cereals for the UK as well as Heinz infant formula for the Chinese market.”
Kendal Nutricare, an English pharmaceutical research business, is a newly formed private company. Heinz said the business had an experienced management team with specialist expertise in infant formula and dairy processing, raw material suppliers’ network accreditation standards, and international sales.
Consultation with representatives of staff based at the Kendal site over employment proposals has begun. “We’re hoping to get assurances that terms and conditions won’t be detrimentally affected,” said Carruthers.