Northern FOODS has confirmed the loss of more than 400 of the 1,900 jobs at its

Park Cakes factory in Oldham as part of an efficiency drive. The business has also been put up for sale along with 16 other Northern operations, including several bakery businesses, as part of a move to slim down the group to concentrate on the pizza, biscuit, ready meal, sandwich and Christmas pudding markets.

The businesses to be sold account for 40% of sales and employ some 9,000 workers (British Baker, June 2, pg 3). Park Cakes’ Oldham factory makes supermarket own-label cakes and has a sister factory in Bolton, which has also been put up for sale. Difficult relations with Marks and Spencer are believed to be partly behind the slim-down at Oldham.

The plant has already remodelled its management structure as part of Northern’s Management Capability Programme to boost efficiency. The scheme saw a layer of management cut out and staff promoted to lead factory teams.