Unions have confirmed that 40 jobs were lost at the end of July, when Hovis closed down a bread production line at its Wigan bakery.

Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union regional secretary Geoff Atkinson said the 40 redundancies were mainly made on a voluntary basis.

Hovis had, in June, confirmed that almost 50 jobs were ’at risk’ at its crumpet and bread factory in New Springs, Wigan with the planned cuts blamed on a drop in production volumes.

Atkinson said: “There was a loss of orders and the Wigan bakery had one of the smaller lines, its 17 sack bread plant, so that was closed and production moved to other parts of the country.”

He added the situation at Wigan was still bad, with an ongoing lack of production, and that pay talks had just started between Unions and management with the BFAWU campaigning for a £10 an hour base rate for all its members across the Union.

Atkinson said: “We have another meeting next week. They have made a pay offer of 1% but that is not going to get us up to £10 a hour, as pay rates currently start at £6.94 an hour.”

The redundancies may come as a shock following Hovis’ stronger performance of late, which has seen it take second place in the big three, behind Warburtons and ahead of Kingsmill.

Hovis has also just appointed its long-awaited chief executive, former Dairy Crest managing director Martyn Wilks, following Bob Spooner’s departure three months previously.