South East Wales

114 jobs face the axe at Warburtons' Newport bakery

Warburtons has confirmed 114 jobs could be lost at its Newport bakery and the site might be shut altogether.

The family-owned breadmaker is considering proposals to close its facility at Rogerstone for "operational reasons".

Warburtons appreciated it was a "difficult period" for staff.

Meanwhile, Brace's Bakery said it had contacted the firm, unions and assembly government about taking over the site and saving jobs.

Employees have been briefed and a decision on the future of the Newport bakery will be made next January.

A formal consultation began on Wednesday and will last for a minimum of 90 days.

David Williams, general manager of bakeries in Newport and Bristol, told BBC Radio Wales that the decision had been taken because of surplus capacity at the two bakeries he managed.

He said the company had been forced into efficiency savings as a result.

"It is purely in line with demand. The total bread market and in the south west is not growing in line with our original estimates and forecasts," he said.

Warburtons says it will work with staff and union representatives to explore alternative options - including opportunities at other Warburtons sites, voluntary redundancy and early retirement.

The site in Newport began baking bread in 2006 following a £10m investment and produces a range of white, wholemeal and fruit loaves.

The company website says it bakes 450,000 products every week for consumers in Wales and the south west.

The Bristol bakery opened in 2008 on a 12-acre site and is able to produce more 1.5m products each week.

Mr Williams said: "The bakery in Bristol opened nearly two years ago and at that time our forecasts showed there was more than enough demand for both sites, and for both sites to run flat out."

He said redundancy packages for staff at Newport "to be slightly more than obligatory payments".

Meanwhile, Brace's Bakery said it was looking to buy the site, "keep the bakery running and save jobs".

Scott Richardson, of Brace's, said they had initiated talks with unions and the Welsh Assembly Government "to discuss what options are available to us in terms of buying the site. We have also contacted Warburtons directly."

Brace's is a family-owned firm, based in Crumlin, with a long history in the Gwent valleys.

Warburtons' was founded in Bolton, Lancashire, in 1870, when the family opened a small grocer's shop on Blackburn Road, which stands opposite the present Warburtons headquarters.

The family-run firm produces one million products a day and is the UK's biggest bakery, employing about 5,000 workers.

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