Poultry giant Avara Foods has announced plans to close its Newent factory in Gloucestershire, with the potential loss of all 320 jobs at the facility.
The site, previously known as Freemans of Newent, is a primary processing, cut and pack operation – predominantly preparing a range of fresh chicken products, primarily for foodservice customers.
Avara said it planned to close the factory next spring, due to the impact of “significant inflationary pressure in fuel, commodities, and labour over the past two years”.
While some price increases had been achieved, they had not been sufficient “to mitigate the full impact of rising costs on our margins”, it added.
“In today’s trading environment, sustainable businesses must provide a competitive offer to consumers and sufficient margin to allow reinvestment in the food supply chain,” it said. “These can only be achieved if inflation can be sufficiently offset and that, in turn, demands excellent productivity and efficiency.”
Avara had already taken steps in this regard, including the recent closure of its Abergavenny facility. However, it had also “recognised the need to take further actions to continue to deliver a fifth of UK produced chicken every week, through the most efficient operational footprint”, it explained.
“Regretfully, this process has identified that its existing chicken volumes and full product range could be processed more efficiently, and with lower capital investment, by focusing on fewer, better invested facilities,” the processor said in a statement.
“Critically, this will enable Avara to continue providing all its customers with the high levels of service, investment and innovation for which it is known. These factors have resulted in the proposal to close the Newent site.”
In the coming days, the business said it would begin a collective consultation process with the individuals that are affected by this proposal.
“The nature of this consultation means that no final decisions have been made and there will be no speculation as to how the process will conclude,” it stressed.