Pilgrim’s UK has announced the proposed closure of its Ashton-under-Lyne site in Manchester, UK, putting 542 employees at risk of redundancy.
Pilgrim’s UK says the proposed closure is part of its ongoing footprint review as it looks to structure the business for long-term growth and development. Pilgrim’s UK’s executive team has proposed to transfer existing operations to its facilities located in Spalding in Lincolnshire, Westerleigh in South Gloucestershire, and Bromborough in Merseyside, which the company says could create 90 additional roles split between the three sites.
The initial phase of its footprint review included the closure of its Coalville site in North West Leicestershire and the Bury St Edmunds site in Suffolk, as well as the introduction of a four-day week at Ashton in September 2022.
The UK pork sector continues to face significant challenges, as the UK sow herd has contracted by around 15% and loss-making farmers have left the industry due to a sustained period of high production costs and lower pig prices.
A reliance in the UK on cheaper, lower welfare imports from the EU and post-pandemic recovery challenges within certain markets has negatively impacted UK production.
Rachel Baldwin, VP of human resources at Pilgrim’s UK, said: “The decision to propose the closure of our Ashton site has not been taken lightly and we have made every effort to explore alternative options”.
She continued: “A key part of our work to return to growth includes ensuring we fully optimise our operational footprint and the age and location of Ashton within a densely populated area means that there is no feasible opportunity to modernise or grow the site. As a result, these proposals are unfortunately essential to ensure a sustainable future for our team members across the UK.”
The business will now enter into a period of collective consultation with a site union and employee representatives.
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