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2 Sisters: Jobs under threat as two Black Country factories to close

By John Corser | Wolverhampton | Business | Published:

Food giant 2 Sisters plans to shut two factories that employ 500 workers in the Black Country.

The 2 Sisters factory in Smethwick

The group's chicken processing plants in Wolverhampton and Smethwick will both close, 2 Sisters has announced, after a strategic review of its poultry manufacturing operations.

However the group is planning to move its West Bromwich plant to seven-day operation, creating 400 new roles.

It said the sites at Gallus House, Lincoln Street, Wolverhampton (site E), which employs 150 and Bevan Way, Alpha Business Park, Smethwick (site C), where 350 work, are ageing and unsustainable.

"We are now discussing a proposal with colleagues to cease operations at both sites," the company said in a statement today..

"We are committed to the West Midlands and making investment at the right time in the right locations.

"This is why we will also be consulting with colleagues at our West Bromwich site (site D) about moving to a seven-day operation and investing to potentially creating 400 new jobs.

"Our primary focus now will be to support our colleagues and their representatives during the consultation processes to ensure we reach the best possible outcome for all parties."

Staff at the Wolverhampton and Smethwick sites – the oldest cutting and packing factories in the food group – are being offered the opportunity to move to the West Bromwich site at Howard Street Industrial Estate, Hill Top.

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One factory at the Smethwick site (site A) closed in March last year

2 Sisters is also planning to close its 55-year-old Cambuslang site in Scotland with up to 450 jobs at risk there

Union Unite said it would leave no stone unturned in the fight to save jobs and avert the closure of the three poultry plants.

Workers were informed of the plans yesterday and Unite said it would now enter consultation with the company and press the case for investment and alternatives to the planned closures in a series of meetings with the company over the coming days and weeks.

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Unite national officer for food Joe Clarke said: “These plans have caused a lot of uncertainty and dismay for the workers involved. Unite will be doing everything it can to support our members and secure their futures following this announcement.

“These plans will impact on communities and employment opportunities in Scotland and the West Midlands. Over the coming days and weeks, Unite will be pressing the case for jobs and investment to save the three sites from closure.

“It may not be a viable option for workers at the Cambuslang site to be redeployed because of the distances involved to the other sites run by the company in Scotland, while workers in the West Midlands who keep their job face disruption and uncertainty.

“Workers who have stuck with the company through thick and thin and worked hard to make it a success will inevitably feel a sense of betrayal. The 2 Sisters Food Group needs to engage in the consultation constructively and be willing to listen to alternatives to site closures.”

2 Sisters said it was simplifying how it worked and investing in the areas that can make the most positive difference to its UK poultry operations and would be creating up to 1,000 new roles within the poultry supply chain including the 400 at West Bromwich, 300 at Willand, Devon, 250 at Coupar Angus, Scotland, 35 at Llangefni in Anglesey and 30 at Scunthorpe,

The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee held an inquiry into the food group's actions after an undercover report claimed workers at its West Bromwich site were changing the slaughter dates to extend the shelf-life of meat.

In September, the Food Standards Agency and supermarkets Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer also announced they would investigate the allegations.

2 Sisters also produces biscuits, pies, frozen vegetables and ready meals.

Last month the group sold its Goodfella's pizza business to Nomad Foods in a £200 million deal.

John Corser

By John Corser
Business Reporter

Express & Star Business Editor at head office, Wolverhampton. Welcomes all news of companies and business organisations.

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