Oscar Mayer has announced the potential closure of its sites in Chard, Somerset, which manufactures private label packaged ready meals for UK supermarkets.
The proposal was announced on 22 October when Oscar Mayer announced its intention to enter into consultation with its employees over the potential closure of its sites in Chard.
Depending on the outcome, the Chard sites will close in the next 12 months, relocating production to its other UK sites and putting 860 staff at risk of redundancy.
According to the company, the demand for ready meals has fallen, partly due to impact from the Covid-19 pandemic as people have had more time to cook from scratch during lockdown.
In an attempt to save local jobs, Oscar Mayer looked into developing alternative sites in the area – such as at Millfield – but this was not deemed feasible for the company’s future needs.
The Chard sites have been part of the company since its origin and is the smallest of Oscar Mayer’s manufacturing units.
Francois Legrain, CEO of Oscar Mayer, said: “We believe we have exhausted every avenue to continue future production at Chard, and currently we are unable to see a way to make the economics of this site work in such a challenging market.
“Oscar Mayer fully recognises its responsibility to the local community and sincerely regrets the distress and disappointment this move may cause. This closure, should it occur, is no reflection on the talent and capability of our dedicated staff, who have worked exceptionally hard to help us increase efficiency, for which we remain extremely grateful.”
The consultation period will commence on 10 November and is set to run for a minimum of 45 days, after which a final decision will be made.
According to local papers, Oscar Mayer’s announcement follows the recent closure of the sites’ evening shift that resulted in the loss of around 100 jobs.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020