Walkers ‘will close’ Peterlee factory: 355 jobs at risk

By Matt Atherton contact

- Last updated on GMT

PepsiCo confirmed its Walkers Peterlee factory will close by December 31
PepsiCo confirmed its Walkers Peterlee factory will close by December 31

Related tags: Member of parliament

PepsiCo UK has confirmed it will close its Walkers crisp factory in County Durham, putting 355 jobs at risk.

Following a consultation with staff representatives, the manufacturer revealed it will close its Peterlee site by the end of this year. PepsiCo said the factory closure would safeguard the firm’s long-term growth in the UK.

PepsiCo UK Peterlee manufacturing director Tracey Foster said: “Following a period of consultation, PepsiCo has decided to proceed with the proposal to close the manufacturing site at Peterlee by the end of December 2017.

“We appreciate that this is very difficult news for everyone at the Peterlee site. We would like to emphasise that this decision in no way reflects the performance of our colleagues at Peterlee and we remain very grateful for their hard work and commitment.

‘Significant productivity and efficiency savings’

“Peterlee has been an important site for our business but the proposal presents significant productivity and efficiency savings crucial for ensuring the long-term sustainable growth of our business in the UK.”

The manufacturer’s priority now was supporting workers who were impacted by the factory closure, Foster added. Employees will be consulted individually about what the closure meant for them personally, she said.

The Walkers factory closure was “devastating news”​, said the GMB union. Members were informed of PepsiCo’s decision today (May 9), it added.

GMB regional organiser Michael Hunt told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “The company confirmed the closure today ​[May 9] after a number of meetings. 355 jobs are at risk; mainly in production and manufacturing, and 24 in light vehicle goods.

“We’re upset with Walkers. It’s a shame it couldn’t honour any of our counter proposals, of which there were about half a dozen.”

‘Upset with Walkers’

Hunt confirmed PepsiCo would help any workers who are considering relocation. Staff would have to move from Durham to Walkers’ other manufacturing sites in Leicester.

“Of course this is devastating news for our members, their families and the local community as a whole,”​ said Hunt. “GMB will continue to advise and support our members moving forward and throughout the process.”

Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Easington Grahame Morris – Peterlee’s local MP – took to Twitter to inform his constituency members of PepsiCo UK’s decision to close the factory. See the tweet below.

Meanwhile, a petition to stop Walkers’ Peterlee site from closing received more than 2,000 signatories​ in March. The petition was launched after PepsiCo revealed plans​ to stop production at Peterlee on March 1. It topped 1,000 signatories within 24 hours.

Walkers Peterlee factory – at a glance

  • PepsiCo to close Walkers factory by December 31 2017
  • 355 jobs at risk
  • Production moved to Leicester

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