UPDATE: Bosses at threatened Corby factory couldn’t absorb ‘scale of losses’ any longer

Food Utopia, Godwin Road, Corby NNL-180427-131018005
Food Utopia, Godwin Road, Corby NNL-180427-131018005

Owners of a loss-making food factory in Corby where 500 jobs are under threat say that they tried to create a viable alternative to closure.

The Northants Telegraph revealed earlier today that there are 300 permanent jobs and 200 agency jobs under threat at Food Utopia in Godwin Road.

Now managers have released a statement explaining the rationale behind the closure, and confirming that they are proposing that the site will shut down on August 1.

The statement read: “We are consulting with colleagues about a proposal to close our loss-making salad making site in Corby.

“The scale of the losses are such that despite the best efforts of the management team, it has not been possible to create a viable alternative to save the site.

“Therefore we have now entered a period of collective consultation on our proposal to cease all production at Food Utopia from August 1 2018.

“Our first priority now will be to support our colleagues through this process.”

Representatives of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union which represents some of the site’s workers have not returned calls from the Northants Telegraph today.

Leader of Corby Borough Council Tom Beattie said the authority is willing to engage in talks with the company.

He said: “It’s a very disappointing to receive this news.

“It’s not what we want to hear.

“Corby continues to have ambition to grow and develop and we want to continue to attract investment.

“The council would be prepared to meet with the company and representatives for the workers and do what we can.

“We have previously worked with the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership where there have been redundancies and we will continue to do so to see if there is any assistance we can offer.”

This is the largest scale redundancy threat in Corby for many years.

In 2015, boat maker Fairline was threatened with closure with 450 jobs at risk. Many of those who lost their jobs were later employed by a new company set up on the same site.

In 2009, up to 370 staff were made redundant at RS Components.

And nearly 400 jobs went when Valassis moved most of its operations to Poland.

In 2014, when closure at Food Utopia was last threatened, there were estimated to be 310 workers with up to 600 more agency staff employed at various times.

Food Utopia took over the plant from 2 Sisters, which had planned to close it along with its Avana Bakeries site in Wales in 2014. The owners had said it was unprofitable.

But a management buyout by Veepul Patel saved the Corby plant which makes sandwiches and baked goods for shops, along with its sister site in Newport.

But the Newport site closed last year after 60 years in operation, with the loss of 161 jobs.

The new William Jacksons Food Group Bakery opens soon in Corby and recruitment is ongoing. Workers at Food Utopia who may lose their jobs can search for vacancies at the bakery here