Allied Bakeries, producer of Kingsmill and Allinson, is looking to shut its Orpington bakery, affecting about 170 jobs.

The bakery, said to be the town’s second-largest employer, has confirmed a full consultation in response to a decline in sales.

Allied Bakeries, part of Associated British Foods (ABF), said in a statement: “Due to the long-term decline in the bread market, Allied Bakeries is proposing the closure of its manufacturing plant in Orpington to maintain competitiveness.

“The consultation process around the proposal will commence immediately with those potentially affected and their union representatives.

“Every effort, including professional outplacement support, will be made to secure alternative employment either within Allied Bakeries, the broader ABF group or externally in the local area for potentially affected employees. This proposal does not affect Allied Bakeries’ regional depot facility in Orpington.”

Jo Johnson, Orpington MP, spoke with the chief executive of ABF and met with site managers of Allied Bakeries to discuss the future plans of the bakery.

Johnson said he was told the site could continue to employ more than 200 people.

He said: “In my meetings and discussions today, I sought the most robust assurances that all people affected will be given appropriate opportunities elsewhere in the company.

“We also need a proper explanation as to why Allied, which has been baking here since 1938, cannot meet its corporate objectives through restructuring elsewhere in the company.

“The consultation must be a proper one that gives real answers to these questions. In the meantime, my deepest sympathies are with the hardworking employees affected by this disappointing news.”

The bakery has been part of the community since 1938 on Cray Avenue, in Orpington.