Threat to 650 jobs at bakery firm Avana Bakeries in Rogerstone, Newport
Updated 5:17pm Friday 7th February 2014 in News
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- AROUND 650 jobs are under threat at Rogerstone firm Avana Bakeries, it was revealed today.
- Loss comes as firm loses Marks & Spencer contract
- M&S business provided 85% of Avana Bakeries' work
- Cake contract lost to firm in Oldham
Rogerstone councillor has asked people to tweet Marks & Spencer to ask them to reconsider:
The Federation of Small Businesses Wales expressed concerned for all workers and families affected by the threat to at the Avana Bakery.
FSB Wales Head of external Affairs Iestyn Davies said: “Hopefully the great majority of these jobs can be retained, as to lose such a large number of posts would be a significant blow to the economy of Newport.
“We know that the employment picture is improving in Wales with more small firms taking on staff, but we need to ensure that we hold onto larger firms, which provide important supply chain opportunities to a wider local business eco-system.
“We would urge the Welsh Government to work with companies of all sizes to ensure that they have a sustainable order book and are not overly reliant on a single contract, the loss of which could have huge repercussions for their business, as in this case.”
Avana jobs threat a huge concern for Newport. So many families affected. Have spoken to Avana to offer @walesoffice support.— Stephen Crabb MP (@SCrabbMP) February 7, 2014
Local businessmen also spoke of the devastating effect a closure could have on Rogerstone.
Andrew Cooksey, 61, from Great Oaks Park in Rogerstone, runs an autism consultancy. He said: “If a major employer like that closes then it has a retrograde effect on local businesses – small supermarkets, restaurants, traders. People haven’t got the money to spend, simple as that. I just hope these jobs can be saved. I don’t want to see anybody out of work – people with children, rent to pay and mortgages to pay.
It’s very sad, because Rogerstone is a vibrant area. Newport has struggled with jobs in the private sector and the bakery is a very important cog in the local economy. When you’re talking 500 or 600 jobs, it’s not rocket science. Take these kind of jobs out of the local economy and people are going to struggle.
“I have got friends that work there. I run a business, not on that scale, but I have got a question mark over any company that places 85 per cent of work with one supplier. If things go wrong with contracts and supply it’s a bit of a problem.”
Paul Williams has run The Bread Basket corner shop on The Uplands in Rogerstone for 25 years. He said: “There could be a lot of people out of work. It’s going to affect trade. People do come from Avana to buy sandwiches and things.”
Looking back at his years running the store, he said: “Business has gone up and down but it’s going down and down at the moment. This could make it quite quiet really.”
Deeply saddened to hear that 600 families affected by job losses at Avana, in Rogerstone.— smlewa (@sallymlewa) February 7, 2014
John Griffiths Assembly Member for Newport East said the situation was “worrying.”
“I think it is a very worrying because it is a long established major employer.
“A lot of people have been working there a long time and are reliant on their jobs.
“The loss of the M &S contract is a major blow given the percentage of the overall work [with them.]
“I know a number of people who work there and they have been working there for quite some time.
“Their families are depending on their jobs.
“It is massively worrying.”
The Secretary of State for Wales David Jones said today's news caused "a great deal of concern to the workers, families and communities affected."
He added the Wales Office was in "close communication" with Avana Bakeries and said they were "confident" that all options to safeguard jobs will be explored during the consultation period.
He said he had spoken to Newport West MP Paul Flynn and have also spoken personally to the Director of Food Technology at M&S who has assured him that the decision to cease the contract was a purely commercial decision.
He finished by saying: "We are committed to working with Avana Bakeries and the Welsh Government to offer all the support we can at this difficult time. Jobcentre Plus is also ready to support employees who may be affected by this announcement today."
All Newport MPs and AMs plus the Secretary of State for Wales seeking change of mind from M&S on Avana contract.— Paul Flynn (@Paulflynnmp) February 7, 2014
Avana news devastating for workforce, major impact on local economy, have offered to meet managment to offer support— William Graham (@williamgrahamam) February 7, 2014
Newport Chamber of Trade president Alan Edwards said that the job losses were a "disaster" for the city.
He said: “We had the summit this week and that was looking at a bright future, but then you get these announcements that come along and it takes the shine off everything. It's obviously a disaster for the people who work there and their families”.
He added: “We need more jobs in the area not less.
“The job losses come quicker than the job gains - it is very worrying for Newport.”
Angharad Davies, 24, works in stock control. She said: "We did see one woman actually crying. Both her and her husband work here. People are shocked really. When [the man giving the news] asked if anybody had any questions nobody knew what to say, there was just silence.
I think it was a surprise even for the managers.
My brother, my boyfriend and my mum all work here. There are a few families with brothers and cousins that work here. It won't just affect one person, it's all of us.
They said they're going to try and get more business. We just don't know, it's like being in limbo.
We knew straight away something was going on because they never have us all together like that."
Ceri Hale, 43, from Foxhill in Rogerstone, has worked as a cake decorator with Avana for 10 years.
She said: "We didn't know there was anything going on. It was a big shock.
"They told us this morning. It's gutting, especially as a lot of families are here, husbands, wives or people earning the only source of income for their family.
"There's not a lot of work about. We've just got to keep smiling and keep hoping."
Plaid AM Jocelyn Davies said: "It’s extremely worrying 650 workers are facing redundancy at the Avana Bakery.
"This is a devastating blow and my thoughts go out to those workers who are left uncertain about the security of their jobs.
"Today’s announcement is the result of the company losing one major contract, and this demonstrates the influence that supermarkets have over the food sector in Wales.
"The Welsh Government and local council should do all they can to work with the company to minimise job losses."
Our reporter Jen Mills spoke to Ceiran Jenkins, 22, from Pontnewynydd, who has worked loading lorries for the company for a year.
He said: "They're trying to contact everyone to let them know the news.
"They read out the brief that was read out to everyone in the factory, saying our jobs were at risk and they were trying their very best.
"There have been rumours for a couple of months that we might lose the M&S contract. I thought something was coming.
"I probably will look for other jobs. As positive as you can stay, in situations like this you have got to be realistic. If our jobs are at risk we need to look at alternatives."
A Welsh Government spokeswoman said the government is working with 2 Sisters Food Group to "explore every option that could safeguard the jobs at Rogerstone".
"This is obviously a very worrying time for staff and their families," she said.
"We will also be ensuring that all staff are fully supported through this difficult period.
"The company has underlined its commitment to its staff and the Welsh Government will continue to work closely with senior management to investigate any new business and employment opportunities here."
Leader of Newport council, councillor Bob Bright has said he is "saddened and greatly concerned" by the news that up to 650 jobs are potentially under threat at Avana Bakeries in Rogerstone and that the site could also close.
"The company has had a major presence in the city for many years, providing hundreds of valuable jobs to local people," he said.
"The council has a variety of schemes and initiatives to support local employers, and it is hoped these can be utilised by the company as it seeks to secure new contracts for the site."
@southwalesargus Thoughts to go out to workers Job losses on these scale wld b blow 2 Newport and SE Wales economy Hope the WGovt can help— Caerphilly Plaid (@CaerphillyPlaid) February 7, 2014
A spokesman for Park Cakes said the cakes and desserts contract is being transferred to their Oldham factory where it employs about 500 staff.
He said they had worked with Marks & Spencer for “several years” and were “happy” that relationship will continue.
It has another factory in Bolton where it employs about 200 people, but where it does not manufacture any Marks & Spencer products.
Park Cakes is owned by Vision Capital, a private equity firm.
Vision Capital also owns Pork Farms, Fletcher Bakeries and BrightHouse, a rent-to-own company which has branches in Newport, Pontypool, Cwmbran, Blackwood and Caerphilly.
12:36pm Fri 7 Feb 14
Terrrible news - I'd like to know where the contract has gone. Surely M&S can't send cakemaking offshore?
I hope there is a realistic possiblilty of alternative work very quickly.
Richard Dawkins, 31, works as a packer with Avana. He said: "It's shocking. I have been here for ten years so it's a bit much to take in on a Friday morning. It's a bit unnerving. The worrying part is if this place closes, where am I going to go? It was very unexpected.
I know to most people it's only cake, but to everybody who works here it's a way of life."
A spokesman for Marks & Spencer confirmed that the contract Avana Bakeries had lost was going to Park Cakes of Oldham, Greater Manchester.
He added they had been working with Avana bakeries for 75 years, in which time they had produced birthday cakes, chilled dessserts, and a hundred other products.
Debbie Mather, spokeswoman for Avana said that the firm put a bid in [for a contract] and weren't successful and lost it to a competitor.
She said it was "obviously a difficult day for everyone here" and that it was "all quite recent", but that they now need to focus on trying to replace that business and "focus on our people here".
She added: "There are 650 people here and the vast majority are at risk. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, there's a risk of site closure."
She said the consultation will last minimum of 45 days. We're talking with M&S about how they move that business elsewhere. That will take a while."
"85 per cent of business at the site came from Marks and Spencer, she added, "so it's a significant amount."
"We're looking for new business, talking to our people about alternative roles.
We'll explore every available option to avoid the threat of redundancy."
She said staff were today being informed of the risk of site closure.
Stacey Morgan, 31, from Cwmfelinfach, has worked at the site for eight years icing cakes: "The mood isn't that bad - people are trying to stay positive. We were all gutted at first when we heard. They're going to try and generate more work for us. I'm hoping that they can."
Kelly Sims, 31, from Maesglas, said: "My sister has been here eight years and my brother-in-law has been here 20 years. They're both happy in their jobs so I'm quite gutted really. I know quite a few people here and I have never heard a bad word about it. A lot of people would be gutted if it closes, they really would."
Mo Bragg, from Nelson, has worked at the site for ten years in quality control. She said: "We're all trying to look positive and hope a miracle will happen.
They told us in a meeting at 10am that we'd lost the orders from M+S. We thought it was just going to be the Christmas orders but apparently we have lost all the orders. We're just gutted. To be honest, it was a lot to take in because it was such a shock."
Very serious jobs blow at Avana Newport with loss of M&S contract. Not all jobs affected and there is some hope to rebuild. Good luck.— Paul Flynn (@Paulflynnmp) February 7, 2014
Devastating news for workers and Newport regading the possible loss of 650 jobs at Avana Bakery. They are a loyal and productive workforce.— Rosemary Butler (@RosemaryButler) February 7, 2014
Paul Flynn MP for Newport West said he had been in touch with the bakery and losing this vital contract "has come as a bitter blow to them."
“The bakery has been an important part of the city and provided several hundred jobs in the area.
“I have visited the in the past and there are a large number of people working in that estate in Rogerstone.
“When I spoke to them this morning they weren’t in despair as they hope that they can build their contracts with others.
“They have a very valuable presence in the city, so it is a very heavy blow, but it is not the end of the road for them yet.
“I have been told around 15 percent of jobs remain secure even though the biggest part of the market has been affected.
“There are lots of skilled people who work there and it has been a hugely successful part of the Newport economy for a long time so it is a bitter blow.
“I just hope that we will be able to help them any way we can.”
The site affected today is the Avana Bakeries site not the ready-meals site.
A spokesperson for Marks & Spencer said: “As part of our work to further improve the quality of our food supply chain, we are consolidating some of our fresh desserts and cakes business and moving from two suppliers to one.
"It’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly and understand that it will have a significant impact for Avana Bakeries. We’ll do all we can to support the supplier through the process.”
John James, Organising Regional Secretary for South Wales for the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), said it represents about 500 workers at the Avana bakery.
He said: “The company is doing everything they can to secure future business. The workforce today was shocked when they were told. There’s an attitude of let’s all stick together, let’s secure more business to move forward.
“Marks & Spencer were asking for people to put in their business plan to secure the Christmas order, which they’ve normally done every year – so I suppose it was out of the blue that we lost the order.
“It’s shocking, I’m absolutely gutted. I deal with these all the time. Over the last few years it’s been really hectic and it’s shocking for all concerned because their lives are going to be turned upside down. But we’ve got to keep positive.”
He said he knows where Marks & Spencer’s contract will be sent but was not able to say.
The majority of the staff were told the news in the staff canteen at a meeting at 10am after managers and unions had been told at 9.30am.
Mr James said: “People who worked nights last night are going to wake up this morning or this afternoon and find out the information straight away.”
@southwalesargus Very worrying news. Thoughts with staff affected. Ward Cllrs staying up to date on latest updates from— Tom Bond (@tomwbond) February 7, 2014
Site of Avana Bakeries on Wern Trading Estate in Rogerstone:
Dame Rosemary Butler, the Assembly Member for Newport West, was told the news this morning.
She said: “I have spoken to the senior managers. And this is just devastating for the people of Newport, devastating for the people who work there. It’s come out of the blue as far as I’m concerned.”
She said it was a “long-standing, excellent employer” with a “fantastically loyal workforce.”
She added Marks and Spencer’s contract, which makes up 85 per cent of what the Avana bakery produces, is for the manufacture of cakes and desserts.
The spokeswoman for Avana Bakeries added: "There is also a risk that the site could be closed and it is with much regret that we can confirm that following a strategic review with our customer M&S, the majority of employees at our Avana bakery site at Newport are now at risk of redundancy following the loss of our M&S business to a competitor.
"The work will now be transferred to the other company, therefore placing the majority of our 650-strong workforce at risk of redundancy.
"Clearly this is a huge setback to our cakes business and our operations in Wales, but we are determined to work hard to reverse the situation.
"As a matter of urgency, we are now making every effort to rebuild the business by seeking alternative customers and strategies which will minimise the impact of this contract loss.
"Our immediate priority now is to have meaningful discussions with our colleagues during a minimum 45-day consultation period to explore all available options before taking the next steps. We are hopeful that we can retain our cakes business in Newport."
Rogerstone councillor Chris Evans said: "We’ve been working closely with our AM, Rosemary Butler, and, we’re in contact with management and staff, at this stage, my thoughts are with the employees and their families, who may lose their jobs, I would hope the Welsh Government will do all they can to mitigate the situation."
A spokeswoman for Avana Bakeries said following the loss of a contract with Marks & Spencer business places "the majority of our 650-strong workforce at risk of redundancy".
AROUND 650 jobs are under threat at Rogerstone firm Avana Bakeries, it was revealed today.