The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) said workers at Warburtons’ Blackpool factory were “shocked” and “angry” after the company announced proposals to close the site with the potential loss of 71 jobs.

A 90-day consultation period to close the factory on Brinwell Road will start on 27 September with Warburtons citing the “continued challenging economic environment and changing demands on our business”.

“The proposed changes are designed to make our manufacturing operations more efficient, which will help us better meet the demands of our customers and consumers across the UK,” said chairman Jonathan Warburton.

Geoff Atkinson, the BFAWU’s regional organising secretary, told British Baker. “The announcement came as a shock to me and the guys and the shop floor and at this point our members are very angry. We will be putting forward ways of keeping the site open during when we sit with management during the consultation.

Suggestions include producing smaller pack sizes, going down to one shift and selling the business as a going concern.”

If Warburtons goes through with the plans, the factory would probably close in January 2013.

In other news, the BFAWU is recommending to its members a new national two-year pay deal from Warburtons of a 2.4% pay increase for this year and next.

Its members had rejected a previous offer of a 2.4% rise plus changes to their terms and conditions. Atkinson said that Warburtons had now dropped the proposals to change terms and conditions, which was why the Union was recommending the deal.