focus on bread, basket of bread

Workers at Avana Bakeries in Newport are “not hopeful” the supplier will be saved after announcing it was set to close at the end of next month, according to the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.

The Food Utopia-owned business, which includes Aldi and Sainsbury’s among its clients, yesterday (14 December) told its 161 employees that its final day of production would be 27 January, after becoming “financially unsustainable”.

In a statement, Avana said: “We have been unable to make sufficient progress in an increasingly competitive market, and as a result the site is loss-making.

“We will continue to explore all options available and seek as much external support as possible as we begin discussions about the future of the operation. We fully recognise the impact of this proposal will have, which is why our total focus now will be to support our colleagues during this difficult time.”

Union spokesman John James blamed the supplier’s collapse on overproduction in the cakes sector. Staff members were “shocked” by yesterday’s news, even though many had been expecting closure for some time, he told The Grocer. “We’ve got to live in hope someone will come along to save the factory, but we’re not hopeful of finding a buyer.”

Workers today entered into a 45-day consultancy with management, and the first meeting between the two parties had gone “very well”, claimed James. His focus over the coming weeks would be on looking after the union’s members, he said. The organisation has already approached other companies to enquire about vacancies.

Avana Bakeries was previously rescued from closure in July 2014, when Food Utopia bought the business from 2 Sisters following the loss of Marks & Spencer contract that threatened 650 jobs. The following month, 390 employees were let go.