Princes plans plant closures amid automation drive

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Princes brands include Princes, Crosse & Blackwell, Aqua Pura, Jucee and Napolina
Princes brands include Princes, Crosse & Blackwell, Aqua Pura, Jucee and Napolina
Princes Group is to sacrifice its Chichester factory, affecting 200 jobs, in a wider drive to modernise production that also entails the planned closure of its Newton Heath juice plant.

In a statement, a spokesman for Princes said: “We can confirm we have commenced a consultation with employees at our Chichester site. We regret that under our proposal, we are forecasting the closure of the Chichester site by the end of 2020. This is not a course of action that has been taken lightly.

“We face unprecedented market conditions and it is crucial that we make significant changes to our operations to future proof our business. Princes Group has strong foundations for growth and will continue to invest in its UK and international operations.

“This will be a very concerning time for all those that will be affected by this announcement and their families, and we will be supporting them through this difficult period.

Essential

Food Manufacture​ understands that the decision had been a tough one, but that it was essential for it to operate efficiently and compete in the market place of the future.

A spokesman for Princes said it was unable to comment on whether any workers at Chichester could be redeployed to other sites until after the staff consultation period had ended.

The plant makes ​ambient branded and own-label pastes and spreads, canned ready meals, canned pies, stocks and gravies, cooking sauces, and sandwich fillings.

Concerning Newton Heath, he said: “Regrettably we announced earlier this year that our Newton Heath site would close in 2020. Chilled juice production is being transferred to our ambient juice production site in Cardiff where a £60m investment is underway to boost capacity and capability in our soft drinks offering.”

Rumours the Newton Heath factory would close surfaced in February, when it emerged that Princes had embarked on a comprehensive review of its manufacturing business​. The company has confirmed that the review has not yet been concluded.

As part of planned restructuring of its UK-wide manufacturing operations, following a comprehensive, in-depth review, it would be investing in a new production line for canned ready meals at its Long Sutton site in Lincolnshire.

It also aimed to establish a new raw materials warehouse and handling facility and a new processing kitchen.

Manufacturing execution system

These investments were in addition to the continuing investment in a new anaerobic digester and the implementation of a manufacturing execution system (MES) at the Lincolnshire plant. 

The overhaul would make it a more agile, efficient and responsive business, enabling it to reflect consumer and retailer needs in its products and packaging and enhance product quality and manufacturing controls, Princes claimed.

The announcement of the planned closure of the Chichester factory comes after Princes confirmed its intention to shut its Newton Heath factory juice 

Princes, which processes fruit juice in addition to canned food, currently runs 11 UK factories, producing brands included Princes, Crosse & Blackwell, Aqua Pura, Jucee and Napolina.

Related topics: Ambient foods, Supply Chain, Manufacturing

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