First Milk has today informed employees at its Maelor cheese packing facility near Wrexham of the business’s proposal to close the facility by the end of May 2014.
First Milk say a consultation period with employees and their representatives will commence shortly. If the closure is confirmed then the employment of up to 231 employees could potentially be affected.
A statement was released saying “The proposal to close the site follows the loss of a significant customer contract and a consequent strategic review which concluded that it is no longer economically viable for the business to keep the site at Maelor operational.”
A spokesperson for the business said in a written statement posted on their website, “We very much regret the need to make the proposal to close our Maelor operation. We have a hard-working, loyal and committed workforce there and we are aware of the impact that this news will have on them. We will of course seek to provide those potentially affected with every support and address ways in which the impact of the proposals can be reduced.
“We have already briefed the Trade Unions at national and local level and have committed to work closely and constructively with them over the coming weeks and months.
“In terms of our creameries in Wales, England and Scotland, it is business as usual.
“There is increasing demand for good quality British cheddar and we currently supply a number of customers with bulk cheese which is then packed at third party facilities. In the event of the closure of Maelor, we have plans to extend these arrangements.
“We remain fully committed to producing high quality British cheese from members’ milk as efficiently as possible, and providing our customers with a first class service.
“As a farmer-owned co-operative, the reason we’re here is to deliver sustainable returns to our members and this announcement today supports that objective.”
In March last year plans were approved for a multi million pound investment in the site to safeguard jobs – you can read the council planning report on P19 of this PDF on the council website. At the time 220 employees were described as ‘all living with 17 miles of the site’.
Lee Truelove from Communications said: ” This is a challenging and difficult day, and is a direct consequence of losing our contract with ASDA. We’re working closely with Trade Unions, we will go through a robust consultation process.
“The closing of the factory is not guaranteed, but should it happen we are working with Trade Unions.!