Britain’s largest bread brand, Warburtons is to axe 28 jobs at its Bolton Variety Bakery as a result of falling sales of bread rolls and a £1m investment in an automated packing line at the plant. 

The company has entered a 30-day consultation process with 111 employees, and expects 28 jobs will be lost - 10 of which come a direct result of the decline in bread rolls.

Jonathan Warburton, chairman and CEO, said the company had to be responsible and make tough decision to remain competitive: “The proposed changes are designed to make our manufacturing operations more efficient and flexible to help better meet the ever changing demands of our customers and consumers across the UK.”

Overall bread sales have been hit by a long term decline in consumption, with challenges coming from NPD in the sandwich alternative market. A spokesman for Warburtons told The Grocer that the decline in bread rolls was due to the change in consumer tastes and habits. “Consumers are looking for alternatives such as wraps and thins,” she said.  Last year Warburtons increased its range of sandwich alternatives, rolling out sandwich pittas and square naans.

In January, the bread brand announced it was closing a site in Blackpool with the loss of 55 jobs as part of a capacity restructuring process. Although 16 workers were relocated to the Bolton sites, the company has confirmed that none of employees who relocated in January will be affected by the latest move. 

After losing £13.6m of sales last year [Nielsen 53 w/e 13 October 2012], the brand announced the biggest ever marketing spend in the bakery category, with ads across TV, radio, digital, PR, sampling and in-store activity.