FSB hits out at Welsh government over food industry support

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has accused the Welsh Government of failing to support the food industry in Wales following the announced closure of Avana Bakeries in Newport.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has accused the Welsh Government of failing to support the food industry in Wales following the announced closure of Avana Bakeries in Newport.

It was confirmed on Monday (7 April) that the site will close at the end of summer and take with it 464 jobs. The FSB has accused the government of not doing enough to save the company and affected jobs.

Head of external affairs at FSB Wales Iestyn Davies said: “Avana Bakeries is just one of many food producers we once had and companies such as 2 Sisters and the other remaining food producers are crucial to the survival of many local communities.

“The Welsh Government has failed to support this key industry and the absence of specific support or enterprise initiative for food manufacturing is a glaring oversight.

“The closure of yet another food producer demonstrates the weaknesses in the Welsh Government’s current strategy to support business and grow the foundational economy.”

Boparan Holdings, the holding company for Avana Bakeries’ parent company 2 Sisters Food Group, made a loss after tax of £27.5m in the 13 weeks to 25 January in comparison to a loss after tax of £12.3m at the same time in 2013. It did record a rise in like-for-like sales of 3.9%.

Ranjit Singh, 2 Sisters Food Group chief executive officer, said: “We continue to invest in capacity to fuel our growth and to address our cost base, which means we have to make tough decisions and, following the exit of two sites in Q1, regrettably on 7 February 2014 we announced consultation on the future of the sites at Corby and Avana.”

Contract

Avana’s closure was cemented by the loss of a multi-million-pound contract with high street retail giant Marks & Spencer.

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Government told Wales Online: “The FSB’s claims are wholly inaccurate.

“We recognise the importance of the Welsh food industry to our economy and communities and are working hard to ensure the success of Welsh food businesses.”

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