Battle over jobs at Avana Bakeries in Rogerstone, Newport ‘not over’ - politicians

South Wales Argus: Battle over Newport bakery jobs ‘not over’ - politicians Battle over Newport bakery jobs ‘not over’ - politicians

THE battle to save 650 jobs at Avana Bakeries in Rogerstone is not over, politicians insist, despite the loss of a major Marks and Spencer cakes contract.

But those pledging to help try to save jobs at the Wern industrial estate site warn that it would be wrong to raise false hopes for employees whose jobs are in jeopardy.

Avana’s parent company 2 Sisters Food Group announced on Friday that the loss of the contract will remove 85 per cent of the site’s business. It has begun a 45-day consultation process during which “all options for the future will be explored”.

UK and Welsh Governments have pledged to help, and cross-party support is being raised for that battle.

Newport West MP Paul Flynn said he hopes there will be “a lot of activity” on the matter this week, and that 2 Sisters Food group and M&S have been approached.

“What is heartening is that Labour and Conservative MPs and AMs, both governments, and the council, are involved,” said Mr Flynn.

“The last thing anyone wants is to raise false hopes, and the situation looks pretty bleak. But we must do all we can, and I hope the loyalty of that workforce can be rewarded.”

Attracting new contracts to try to fill at least some of the huge void left by the M&S pull-out appears the only hope, and Mr Flynn warned that “it seems unlikely M&S will change its mind”.

“There is no disguising it is a very serious blow,” he said.

South Wales East Conservative AM William Graham has offered to meet Avana’s management to offer support, as has the Wales Office – minister Stephen Crabb said the threat to jobs is a “huge concern” for Newport and the staff and families affected.

Plaid Cymru’s South Wales East AM Jocelyn Davies’ thoughts are with the hundreds of Avana staff facing uncertain futures.

That such a situation could arise through the firm losing one major contract demonstrates, she said, the influence that supermarkets have over the Welsh food sector.

“The Welsh Government should work to ensure that we have a stronger and more resilient food supply chain,” she added.

In Rogerstone, the mood is downbeat. Andrew Cooksey, 61, who runs an autism consultancy said if a major employer closes, it has a negative effect on small 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 or mortgages to pay,” he said.

“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, who has run The Bread Basket corner shop on The Uplands for 25 years, said: “There could be a lot of people out of work. It’s going to affect trade. People come from Avana to buy sandwiches and things.

“Business here has gone up and down, but it’s going down and down at the moment. This could make it quite quiet really.”

Retraining ‘will be vital’ if site closes

NEWS of potential job losses at Avana brought a glum end to a week in which Newport received a major financial shot in the arm to try to help kickstart its own economic recovery.

The £15 million of funding from the Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places programme will be targeted at creating and upgrading several hundred inner-city homes in projects that the city council hopes will create up to 600 jobs.

There is also Welsh Government money to fund feasibility studies into proposals contained in the ReNewport taskforce report, such as a software university, an ‘incubator’ scheme for small and medium-sized firms, and an innovation company.

Rogerstone ward councillor Chris Evans said if jobs are eventually lost at Avana, then retraining opportunities for former employees will be vital.

ReNewport proposals for helping regenerate the city and creating high tech skills and jobs would have a big role to play, he added.

“I believe governments and councils will be judged in future by the amount of private sector – not public sector – jobs they help create,” he said.

“Market forces can sometimes be cruel and we are feeling that in Rogerstone and Newport at the moment.

“But we must dust ourselves down.”

Comments (13)

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11:25am Mon 10 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Perhaps Avana could have been more competitive if they didn't hire staff through recruitment agencies - thereby paying a third, to half as much more as the staff get paid, for the convenience of being able to drop workers when they like.
Perhaps Avana could have been more competitive if they didn't hire staff through recruitment agencies - thereby paying a third, to half as much more as the staff get paid, for the convenience of being able to drop workers when they like. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 10

11:47am Mon 10 Feb 14

Llanmartinangel says...

GardenVarietyMushroo
m
wrote:
Perhaps Avana could have been more competitive if they didn't hire staff through recruitment agencies - thereby paying a third, to half as much more as the staff get paid, for the convenience of being able to drop workers when they like.
Yes true but it isn't that simple. If businesses have a seasonal element to demand then it's often the most cost effective means of doing it. Agencies keep databases of people with the skills you need and can find the experienced heads, often at short notice.
[quote][p][bold]GardenVarietyMushroo m[/bold] wrote: Perhaps Avana could have been more competitive if they didn't hire staff through recruitment agencies - thereby paying a third, to half as much more as the staff get paid, for the convenience of being able to drop workers when they like.[/p][/quote]Yes true but it isn't that simple. If businesses have a seasonal element to demand then it's often the most cost effective means of doing it. Agencies keep databases of people with the skills you need and can find the experienced heads, often at short notice. Llanmartinangel
  • Score: 3

12:30pm Mon 10 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Llanmartinangel wrote:
GardenVarietyMushroo

m
wrote:
Perhaps Avana could have been more competitive if they didn't hire staff through recruitment agencies - thereby paying a third, to half as much more as the staff get paid, for the convenience of being able to drop workers when they like.
Yes true but it isn't that simple. If businesses have a seasonal element to demand then it's often the most cost effective means of doing it. Agencies keep databases of people with the skills you need and can find the experienced heads, often at short notice.
Short term, short notice work... then fine, I can see how that would be better. But I once worked for a large, local company for fourteen months solid through a recruitment agency - that's fourteen months of not receiving the full benefit of my work to an employer and instead having it leeched off by an organisation that did nothing but cause problems and mess my wages up (mentioning no names, Adecco) because the company would rather not hire on the books staff.

From the sounds of it, Avana are the same kind of company.
[quote][p][bold]Llanmartinangel[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]GardenVarietyMushroo m[/bold] wrote: Perhaps Avana could have been more competitive if they didn't hire staff through recruitment agencies - thereby paying a third, to half as much more as the staff get paid, for the convenience of being able to drop workers when they like.[/p][/quote]Yes true but it isn't that simple. If businesses have a seasonal element to demand then it's often the most cost effective means of doing it. Agencies keep databases of people with the skills you need and can find the experienced heads, often at short notice.[/p][/quote]Short term, short notice work... then fine, I can see how that would be better. But I once worked for a large, local company for fourteen months solid through a recruitment agency - that's fourteen months of not receiving the full benefit of my work to an employer and instead having it leeched off by an organisation that did nothing but cause problems and mess my wages up (mentioning no names, Adecco) because the company would rather not hire on the books staff. From the sounds of it, Avana are the same kind of company. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 11

12:31pm Mon 10 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

BTW - I may still have been there now if I hadn't got totally fed up with the company and the agency and told them to stick their job
BTW - I may still have been there now if I hadn't got totally fed up with the company and the agency and told them to stick their job GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 5

12:35pm Mon 10 Feb 14

heresphil says...

It might be shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted but Avana's management now need to go out, investigate and fight for any large baking contract that might be up for grabs in the near future. The demand for cakes hasn't collapsed and M&S are far from the only player in town. It's time to approach all the major supermarket and baking chains to see if there is a realistic chance of winning new work.
It might be shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted but Avana's management now need to go out, investigate and fight for any large baking contract that might be up for grabs in the near future. The demand for cakes hasn't collapsed and M&S are far from the only player in town. It's time to approach all the major supermarket and baking chains to see if there is a realistic chance of winning new work. heresphil
  • Score: 9

12:35pm Mon 10 Feb 14

Stan Edwards says...

M&S have always been a pain with 'process exclusivities'.
They have two things to learn:
1. Supply chain loyalty counts for a lot.
2. The public will learn that M&S quality cakes are really Avana quality cakes. M&S competitors could wake up to realign their supply chains to take up the possibilities. Given the quality of the product, diverse marketing opportunities could be immense.

The political will behind this is encouraging.
Go Avana
M&S have always been a pain with 'process exclusivities'. They have two things to learn: 1. Supply chain loyalty counts for a lot. 2. The public will learn that M&S quality cakes are really Avana quality cakes. M&S competitors could wake up to realign their supply chains to take up the possibilities. Given the quality of the product, diverse marketing opportunities could be immense. The political will behind this is encouraging. Go Avana Stan Edwards
  • Score: 10

12:41pm Mon 10 Feb 14

Llanmartinangel says...

GardenVarietyMushroo
m
wrote:
Llanmartinangel wrote:
GardenVarietyMushroo


m
wrote:
Perhaps Avana could have been more competitive if they didn't hire staff through recruitment agencies - thereby paying a third, to half as much more as the staff get paid, for the convenience of being able to drop workers when they like.
Yes true but it isn't that simple. If businesses have a seasonal element to demand then it's often the most cost effective means of doing it. Agencies keep databases of people with the skills you need and can find the experienced heads, often at short notice.
Short term, short notice work... then fine, I can see how that would be better. But I once worked for a large, local company for fourteen months solid through a recruitment agency - that's fourteen months of not receiving the full benefit of my work to an employer and instead having it leeched off by an organisation that did nothing but cause problems and mess my wages up (mentioning no names, Adecco) because the company would rather not hire on the books staff.

From the sounds of it, Avana are the same kind of company.
Then the management of that company were possibly not thinking straight. They are, as you say, expensive so the managers who chose to use agency were potentially disadvantaging the employer they depend on for their own livelihood by inflating the cost base. I have used agencies but there are other disadvantages apart from cost. Agency staff are sometimes unreliable and have no loyalty to the contractor (who can blame them). If Avana were using agency long term then it can't have helped.
[quote][p][bold]GardenVarietyMushroo m[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Llanmartinangel[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]GardenVarietyMushroo m[/bold] wrote: Perhaps Avana could have been more competitive if they didn't hire staff through recruitment agencies - thereby paying a third, to half as much more as the staff get paid, for the convenience of being able to drop workers when they like.[/p][/quote]Yes true but it isn't that simple. If businesses have a seasonal element to demand then it's often the most cost effective means of doing it. Agencies keep databases of people with the skills you need and can find the experienced heads, often at short notice.[/p][/quote]Short term, short notice work... then fine, I can see how that would be better. But I once worked for a large, local company for fourteen months solid through a recruitment agency - that's fourteen months of not receiving the full benefit of my work to an employer and instead having it leeched off by an organisation that did nothing but cause problems and mess my wages up (mentioning no names, Adecco) because the company would rather not hire on the books staff. From the sounds of it, Avana are the same kind of company.[/p][/quote]Then the management of that company were possibly not thinking straight. They are, as you say, expensive so the managers who chose to use agency were potentially disadvantaging the employer they depend on for their own livelihood by inflating the cost base. I have used agencies but there are other disadvantages apart from cost. Agency staff are sometimes unreliable and have no loyalty to the contractor (who can blame them). If Avana were using agency long term then it can't have helped. Llanmartinangel
  • Score: 0

1:01pm Mon 10 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Llanmartinangel wrote:
GardenVarietyMushroo

m
wrote:
Llanmartinangel wrote:
GardenVarietyMushroo



m
wrote:
Perhaps Avana could have been more competitive if they didn't hire staff through recruitment agencies - thereby paying a third, to half as much more as the staff get paid, for the convenience of being able to drop workers when they like.
Yes true but it isn't that simple. If businesses have a seasonal element to demand then it's often the most cost effective means of doing it. Agencies keep databases of people with the skills you need and can find the experienced heads, often at short notice.
Short term, short notice work... then fine, I can see how that would be better. But I once worked for a large, local company for fourteen months solid through a recruitment agency - that's fourteen months of not receiving the full benefit of my work to an employer and instead having it leeched off by an organisation that did nothing but cause problems and mess my wages up (mentioning no names, Adecco) because the company would rather not hire on the books staff.

From the sounds of it, Avana are the same kind of company.
Then the management of that company were possibly not thinking straight. They are, as you say, expensive so the managers who chose to use agency were potentially disadvantaging the employer they depend on for their own livelihood by inflating the cost base. I have used agencies but there are other disadvantages apart from cost. Agency staff are sometimes unreliable and have no loyalty to the contractor (who can blame them). If Avana were using agency long term then it can't have helped.
Unfortunately, it's the landscape of the current employment market. Personally, I think it's criminal but there you go.

Back to the topic in hand - wonder if Brace's are now eyeing up Avana and running some numbers.
[quote][p][bold]Llanmartinangel[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]GardenVarietyMushroo m[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Llanmartinangel[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]GardenVarietyMushroo m[/bold] wrote: Perhaps Avana could have been more competitive if they didn't hire staff through recruitment agencies - thereby paying a third, to half as much more as the staff get paid, for the convenience of being able to drop workers when they like.[/p][/quote]Yes true but it isn't that simple. If businesses have a seasonal element to demand then it's often the most cost effective means of doing it. Agencies keep databases of people with the skills you need and can find the experienced heads, often at short notice.[/p][/quote]Short term, short notice work... then fine, I can see how that would be better. But I once worked for a large, local company for fourteen months solid through a recruitment agency - that's fourteen months of not receiving the full benefit of my work to an employer and instead having it leeched off by an organisation that did nothing but cause problems and mess my wages up (mentioning no names, Adecco) because the company would rather not hire on the books staff. From the sounds of it, Avana are the same kind of company.[/p][/quote]Then the management of that company were possibly not thinking straight. They are, as you say, expensive so the managers who chose to use agency were potentially disadvantaging the employer they depend on for their own livelihood by inflating the cost base. I have used agencies but there are other disadvantages apart from cost. Agency staff are sometimes unreliable and have no loyalty to the contractor (who can blame them). If Avana were using agency long term then it can't have helped.[/p][/quote]Unfortunately, it's the landscape of the current employment market. Personally, I think it's criminal but there you go. Back to the topic in hand - wonder if Brace's are now eyeing up Avana and running some numbers. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 5

1:45pm Mon 10 Feb 14

grumpyandopinionated says...

In one sense it is practical to use agencies on the short term for sickness, peaks in demand etc but I don't see how it is ever benificial to employ every worker through an agency. I've worked at many factories through agencies and you always get the rubbish jobs and are treated like a used disposable nappy. Thankfully I haven't had to stay with agencies long.

Just thought that I'd google 2 sisters out of interest and the first result is news that a former head of food product development at Marks & Spencer April Preston has been appointed innovation director for 2 Sisters Food Group. That really does sound strange/suspisious.

However with such a large group they should be able to switch some production between sites, but I would imagine that they would close the lot. As the firm under it's previous owners was in trouble years ago. I think that for marks and spencer there is probably alot more in the decision process that it just being about price, probably quality and reliability might have come into it.

I once worked there on the expension to the factory and walking through the building I did not think much of the place. Don't know if things have changed now though.

Hopefully they can turn things around, but I don't think it should be upto M&S to have to change it's mind. They should be free to pick and chose who they award contracts too to get the best overall deal.
In one sense it is practical to use agencies on the short term for sickness, peaks in demand etc but I don't see how it is ever benificial to employ every worker through an agency. I've worked at many factories through agencies and you always get the rubbish jobs and are treated like a used disposable nappy. Thankfully I haven't had to stay with agencies long. Just thought that I'd google 2 sisters out of interest and the first result is news that a former head of food product development at Marks & Spencer April Preston has been appointed innovation director for 2 Sisters Food Group. That really does sound strange/suspisious. However with such a large group they should be able to switch some production between sites, but I would imagine that they would close the lot. As the firm under it's previous owners was in trouble years ago. I think that for marks and spencer there is probably alot more in the decision process that it just being about price, probably quality and reliability might have come into it. I once worked there on the expension to the factory and walking through the building I did not think much of the place. Don't know if things have changed now though. Hopefully they can turn things around, but I don't think it should be upto M&S to have to change it's mind. They should be free to pick and chose who they award contracts too to get the best overall deal. grumpyandopinionated
  • Score: 3

2:54pm Mon 10 Feb 14

snafu1 says...

its all well good local policticians making all the right noises but in the cold light of day they will achieve very little ,just cast your mind back to Llanwern steelmaking closure feb 2001.
its all well good local policticians making all the right noises but in the cold light of day they will achieve very little ,just cast your mind back to Llanwern steelmaking closure feb 2001. snafu1
  • Score: 9

7:28pm Mon 10 Feb 14

AB says...

Perhaps an opportunity for Avana to open up an online outlet now that they are not tied in to M&S. This may realise a potential for tbe company to offer its produce to the general market place.
Perhaps an opportunity for Avana to open up an online outlet now that they are not tied in to M&S. This may realise a potential for tbe company to offer its produce to the general market place. AB
  • Score: 5

8:09pm Mon 10 Feb 14

Magor says...

Politicians cant tell private firms what to do,but they can make it easier for them by sorting out the Bridge Tolls and the M4.
Politicians cant tell private firms what to do,but they can make it easier for them by sorting out the Bridge Tolls and the M4. Magor
  • Score: 5

3:54pm Tue 11 Feb 14

fooey1 says...

I blame it on the senior management there. Avana was always known for its quality but there are far to many bullys there.. in my last 3 years at the company being there for 15 years I saw a dramatic change in quality where huge amounts of pressure were put on people to meet targets (myself being one ) to many management there bringing nothing to the business apx 1 manager to every 13 people which is ridiculous. Quality was going down hill fast customers complaints up massively.. its hardly surprising news knowing how the company is run..
I blame it on the senior management there. Avana was always known for its quality but there are far to many bullys there.. in my last 3 years at the company being there for 15 years I saw a dramatic change in quality where huge amounts of pressure were put on people to meet targets (myself being one ) to many management there bringing nothing to the business apx 1 manager to every 13 people which is ridiculous. Quality was going down hill fast customers complaints up massively.. its hardly surprising news knowing how the company is run.. fooey1
  • Score: 1

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