The year so far has been hailed as "the worst period for bakeries since the 1980s", with a spate of companies announcing redundancies or calling in administrators.
This week, British Baker has learned that British Bakeries has started a consultation on plans to close its Plymouth bakery, with over 150 redundancies. It wants to turn the bakery into a distribution centre, due to over-capacity at its bakeries across the UK.
Meanwhile, frozen desserts supplier Bonne Bouche has gone into administration with 242 redundancies (see below). And private equity firm Vision Capital, which bought a tranche of former Northern Foods’ businesses last month, is planning to make 380 job cuts at its Park Cake Bakeries’ site in Oldham and up to 99 at the Bolton site, to cut costs.
Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union general secretary Joe Marino said it was getting to be "like in the 1980s, when the phone went and you did not want to answer it". He told British Baker that own-label suppliers were under particular pressure: "The last time this happened was during a period of massive change in plant bread. We have not seen anything like it since then. How far can this consolidation, which the big com- panies have embarked on, go? This is all down to the power of the retailer, but the manufacturer has got to stop moaning and take it up with authorities such as the Competition Commission."
Vision Capital said the potential job losses at Park Cakes Bakeries, which employs 1.360 staff, were "prompted by the need to consolidate the business and secure the jobs of the remaining workforce while realigning the business against the overall marketplace."
But a Union official said he felt that the job cuts were a "knee-jerk reaction", as the new owners had "only been in five minutes". Vision plans to pay statutory redundancy, rather than follow redundancy terms and conditions of former employer Northern Foods, he added.
British Baker also revealed last week that own-label cakes supplier Oakdale Bakeries was in administration, with 350 jobs at stake. The week before, 50 job cuts were announced at Vision’s Pork Farm Bowyers’ savoury business.