Wall’s sausages maker Kerry Foods to shut down Staffordshire factory – 900 jobs at risk

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The food manufacturer has earmarked a site in Burton-upon-Trent for closure after the company lost a contract to supply ready-made meals to the supermarket giant. Trades union Unite estimated “90 percent of the work” at the factory came from production for Tesco, who had been working with Kerry Foods for 19 years. The food company failed to secure another contract with the supermarket after Tesco decided to use another supplier in October 2018. Unite will meet with Kerry Foods this Friday to discuss the proposed closure, which would see the factory shut in September.

Kerry Foods said its priority is to “support all employees” as Unite described the plan as “a crushing blow for the regional economy”.

Unite’s regional officer Rick Coyle said: “This is a calamity for Burton as Kerry Foods is the town’s biggest employer.

“It is heartbreaking for the workforce, their families and, more widely, a crushing blow for the regional economy.

“This is a very sad day for Burton and the end of an era.”

Mr Coyle said he had been in touch with brewer Molson Coors, the town’s second largest employer, to discuss employment opportunities for those affected.

He continued: “The problem going forward is that there are not that many well-paid jobs in Burton and the vicinity to replace those that will be lost at the end of August.

“We have been in touch with Molson Coors to explore employment opportunities there.

“Also, we will help arrange a jobs fair at the site and assist our members with their CVs and advice on updating their skills.”

Kerry Foods, founded in 1972 in County Kerry, Ireland, has 18 factories and its notable brands include Wall’s, Mattessons, Cheestrings, Richmond and Fridge Raiders.

The group employs around 25,000 people in its manufacturing, sales and technical centres worldwide and supplies over 15,000 foods to more than 140 countries.

A spokesman for Kerry Foods said: “Kerry Foods announced today that we propose to cease operations at our production facility in Burton from the start of September, notwithstanding continuing efforts to find alternative solutions for the site.

“The company would like to extend a sincere thank you to all our Burton colleagues for their hard work and commitment and our priority now is to support all employees affected during this time.” 

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