An Orpington bakery that has stood since 1938 could bake its last loaf of bread.
News Shopper has been told Allied Bakeries, heralded as a ‘local institution’ and said to be the town’s second largest employer, has confirmed a full consultation will take place.
Around 170 jobs could be affected.
At 4pm today (August 4) staff members were to be told the news as parent company ABF Grain Products Ltd looks to takes action following a decline in sales.
Just hours before Jo Johnson MP met with site managers at the Cray Avenue factory and had also discussed the decision with the chief executive of the Association of British Foods.
Mr Johnson told News Shopper it is “disappointing news” and “a difficult day for the company”, but said he has been told employees would all be offered alternative roles.
The MP said: “My heart goes out to everyone affected.
“There’s been a decline in the market. The important this is we all work together.”
Allied Bakeries, which produces popular brands such as Kingsmill and Sunblest, seems to be reacting to research that shows that Britons are buying fewer sliced supermarket loaves than ever.
Although the move could mark the end of baking in Orpington, the site would continue to operate as a distribution and logistics centre, News Shopper understands.
Mr Johnson said he was told the site could continue to employ over 200 people.
Following discussions, he added: “I sought the most robust assurances that all people affected be given appropriate opportunities elsewhere in the company.
“We also need a proper explanation of why Allied Bakeries, which has been baking here since 1938, cannot meet its corporate objectives through restructuring elsewhere in the company.
“The consultation must be a proper one that gives real answers to these questions. “In the meantime, my deepest sympathies are with the hardworking employees affected by this disappointing news.”
Allied Bakeries said in a statement: “Due to the long term decline in the bread market, Allied Bakeries is proposing the closure of its manufacturing plant in Orpington to maintain competitiveness.
“The consultation process around the proposal will commence immediately with those potentially affected and their union representatives.
“Every effort including professional outplacement support will be made to secure alternative employment either within Allied Bakeries, the broader ABF group or externally in the local area for potentially affected employees. This proposal does not affect Allied Bakeries’ regional depot facility in Orpington.”
Operations Director for Allied Bakeries Nick Law added: “The potential closure of manufacturing at Orpington has been an extremely tough decision and in no way reflects the commitment and efforts of all those who are currently working there.
“Our announcement today is a response to the highly competitive nature of the market we operate in.”