Jacobs crackers

Source: Jacob’s

The bakery factory in Aintree, Liverpool, is Pladis’ primary Jacob’s cracker production site

Hundreds of jobs are at risk at a Pladis factory in Liverpool after the manufacturer proposed major changes to ensure the survival of its Jacob’s brand.

Around half of the 763-strong workforce at the Aintree site could be made redundant at the end of next year as part of the restructuring proposal. Pladis is set to commence a consultation on the plans, adding that the exact number of jobs to be cut would be confirmed after this.

In a company statement, Pladis described Jacob’s as one of the most iconic brands in the UK, and one that had been around for over 100 years.

“To ensure it can remain for another 100 years, it is essential we address the current constraints we have at Aintree,” said the company. “We have therefore proposed some changes at the site which include a significant investment in the infrastructure but reducing the overall site footprint.

“This proposal will now be subject to consultation with our employees as it could result in a reduction in roles at Aintree from December 2024. We will do everything we can to support our colleagues through this uncertain time,” it added.

The entire Jacob’s workforce at the Aintree plant, which produces Twiglets and Club bars as well as Jacob’s product range, had previously gone on strike 12 months ago over a pay dispute, during which time production was shifted to a third-party supplier in Portugal. Employees returned to work a few weeks later following a deal struck between GMB union bosses and Pladis, which saw them receive a 6.5% rise backdated to January 2022 plus £750 in bonuses.

Despite its apparent ongoing business concerns, Jacob’s has continued to launch new products this year including Cheese & Pickle Cheddars and Rosemary Mediterranean Crackers recently rolled out at Asda and Morrisons stores, and reformulated Crinklys varieties with 30% less fat.

Pladis currently operates 25 factories in 11 countries, employing more than 16,000 staff worldwide with global headquarters in London. In its annual report of group accounts for the year ended 31 December 2022, Pladis delivered consolidated revenue growth of 27%, going from £2bn the previous term up to £2.54bn. This was said to be driven by a combination of factors including step-up innovation activity, which also enabled increased price realisation, strong in-market execution, and pricing action in response to inflation.

Sales of leading Pladis-owned brands including McVitie’s, Jacob’s, Carr’s, Jaffa Cakes, Penguin, and Go Ahead reportedly accounted for 21.5% of the overall UK biscuit market last year. A new £2m warehouse expansion of its Carlisle production facility, which makes selected McVitie’s, Carr’s, and Go Ahead products, was unveiled in August.