2 Sisters Food Group, which supplies chickens to most of the UK’s major supermarkets and also owns Fox’s Biscuits and Holland’s Pies, announced proposals to shut down the factory in Witham, Essex, as part of cost-saving measures. It is understood 555 employees at the processing plant are now in danger of being made redundant after it was suggested the food there could be produced “more efficiently elsewhere”. The company said it was considering closing the Freebournes Industrial Estate site “as part of an on-going review of the company’s loss-making sites”. Employees are said to be in the midst of a consultation process.
2 Sisters Food Group is owned by restaurant tycoon Ranjit Boparan, who is also in charge of Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner eateries.
Ronald Kers, chief executive officer of 2SFG, said: “We’re all acutely aware that some of our plans, such as reducing our UK poultry footprint, brings uncertainty for colleagues, and it is with regret that we have to make such proposals.
“But the alternative of doing nothing and hoping for an upturn is not an option.”
The company added in a statement: “Our continuing UK poultry strategic footprint review has concluded we need shorter and leaner supply chains in order to remain competitive in an extremely challenging sector.
“Our key priority now is to hold meaningful consultations with all affected employees.”
Regional officer at Unite, Michelle Cook, said: “The announcement that the 2 Sisters Food Group plans to shut its poultry processing plant at Witham, Essex is grim news for the 600-strong workforce and, more generally, for the Essex economy.
“Unite is seeking an urgent meeting with the management to clarify the implications of what is proposed.
“Our first priority will be our members at this very worrying time for them and their families.”
Ms Cook said the group would be actively seeking to avoid compulsory redundancies.
Trevor Harvey, who has worked at the site for the last 25 years, told the BBC he will miss the job but added “what can you do?”.
He said: “Orders have been dropping lately, we’ve not had a lot of work going on.
“You can’t do nothing about it.