Hope for workers as buyer found for Rogerstone bakery
Updated 4:58pm Wednesday 9th July 2014 in Gwent news
Newport West AM said it is "excellent news" that Food Utopia is reported to have taken over the Avana Bakeries plant, potentially saving 650 local jobs.
She added she will continue to work with staff and representatives, and that she "looked forward to having discussions about the future of the plant."
Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West, however, sounded a cautious note saying: “I would treat what appears to be ‘good news’ with a great deal of caution".
He said he heard the news at a meeting with 2 Sisters representatives this morning, adding: "We all like to be optimistic about future jobs but I’m very uncertain about the future viability of this. We hope for the best but it would be premature to celebrate too much."
“We want to see long-term contracts set up before building up peoples’ hopes.”
Rogerstone councillor Chris Evans added: “The company’s loyal and hardworking staff deserve clarification on their position. I think this is good news, but we do need reassurance that they will work hard to secure the medium and long-term future of the jobs. The last things we want is any more uncertainty.”
John James, organising regional secretary for the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, said he was told during a meeting this morning at 9.45am that a buyer had been found, with staff on the workshop floor told just after.
He said: “Everyone is relieved, obviously. They have 101 questions to ask, same as everybody else.
“We look forward to working with the new company moving forward to secure a future for Avana.” But he cautioned: “It is early days yet.”
The new owners have inherited Avana’s Christmas orders, a spokesman for 2 Sisters confirmed.
Avana workers Claire Wilkins and Andrea Pitt, who have worked at the plant for 18 years and 25 years respectively, said they were “overwhelmed” by the news, especially in view the hard work they have put in over the last months in Avana’s New Product Development (NPD) department.
They said they were “staying to the bitter end” and that the factory is “like a family”.
And Helen Piacentina, who has worked in Avana’s stock control department for nine years and was looking for a new job for when the bakery was due to close in September, said she was “really optimistic about the future.”
She said: “Overall there’s a good felling because we were all losing our jobs in September and now we’re not.”
The company that has bought the Rogerstone site, Food Utopia Ltd, has been set up by two former executives of the 2 Sisters group, who own Avana Bakeries.
William Graham AM for South Wales East & Shadow Minister for Business & Enterprise welcomed the news. He added the news "offers the potential of a sound future for the Rogerstone bakery. It is positive news that the new company has inherited Avana’s Christmas orders."
Avana Bakeries have confirmed the sale of its site at Rogerstone this afternoon.
A spokesman said "it is proposed to operate the business under a new company, Food Utopia Ltd, which will aim to secure continuing operations. We will now commence the TUPE transfer process of colleagues."
"There will be a transition period as existing customer contracts transfer to the new company."
There are currently 552 employees at the Rogerstone site.
REPORTS say Avana Bakeries in Rogerstone has been taken over, potentially saving the 650 jobs at risk since losing a key contract earlier this year.
The firm Food Utopia is reported to have taken over the plant and its inherited Christmas orders.
The plant's jobs were set to go after Marks and Spencer terminated a contract with the baker and shifted the work to a plant in Oldham in March.
Rogerstone councillor Chris Evans said: "It appears to be good news breaking about Avana Bakeries, workers tell me it's been taken over, and, they're positive about the future."