The company informed employees on Wednesday (10 July) its intention to close the factory in Newburn, citing changing consumer trends as the reason for the proposal. The job losses would be felt across the baker’s main bakery – its depot and separate free-from factory would be unaffected.
Warburtons has begun a 45-day consultation with staff and said it would do everything possible to redeploy the Newburn employees.
‘Market continues to be challenging’
A Warburtons spokesman said: “The bakery market continues to be challenging, and as consumers continue to switch from bread to other wrapped bakery such as bagels, flatbread and crumpets, we need to ensure our business is set up to meet demand for the long term.
“Unfortunately, this means making the very difficult decision to enter into consultation on the proposed closure of our core Newburn bakery. No decision will be made until the thorough consultation is completed and we are supporting everyone affected at this very difficult time.”
The spokesman reiterated the manufacturer’s commitment to the area and referenced the company’s £35m investment in infrastructure over the past 18 months to meet demand.
“We also remain committed to our north-east operations and, over the next 12 months, will be making improvements to our free-from bakery and distribution facility with an investment of £3m,” the spokesman added.
Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union national president Ian Hodson said the union had been made aware of the situation and was in discussions with Warburtons.
“At this time the consultation process has only just begun,” said Hodson. “Clearly this a very unsettling time for all those employees who find themselves at risk.”
Warburtons’ planned closure of its Newburn site has followed decisions by a number of food and drink firms to shut down production facilities in the past month.
Last week saw dairy processor First Milk announce its intention to shut down its Arran, Scotland creamery, putting jobs at risk.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, more than 80 jobs were at risk at a meat processing facility in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, after the owner announced plans to close the site next month.