Food factory to close with 116 jobs at risk

Facing closure: Exotic Farm Produce's factory on this site in Kirton
Facing closure: Exotic Farm Produce's factory on this site in Kirton

A FRESH produce factory in Kirton is set to close – putting its 116 staff at risk of redundancy.

The Bakkavor-owned Exotic Farm Produce site in London Road has been earmarked for closure by bosses who say that it has not made enough money for a “sustained period of time”.

Staff have now entered into a 90-day consultation period, which ends on May 11, and Bakkavor says it hopes to find roles for as many as possible at its other sites which include Holbeach St Marks, Spalding and Sutton Bridge.

A spokesman said: “Exotic Farm Produce, which is a produce trading business, has been unprofitable for a sustained period of time due to the impact of reduced sales volumes and ongoing input inflation.

“More recently, it has lost a major customer contract and despite EFP’s tremendous efforts to secure new business over the past two years the progress made has not been enough to counter this latest development.

“Unfortunately, as a result, the business is no longer in a position to sustain itself going forward.

“If the proposal goes ahead we are committed to securing roles for employees at other sites within the group wherever possible.

“We appreciate that it has been a difficult period for everyone at Exotic Farm Produce over recent years and we would like to stress that this proposal does not reflect the commitment and hard work of the employees at the site.”

Icelandic firm Bakkavor bought the site, which began operating in 1985, in August 2007.

It had a round of redundancies there in early 2009, when some of the prepared produce operations were transferred away from the site. At the time we reported that there were typically 370 employees at the factory – although that figure included a fluctuating temporary workforce.

The site handles peas, beans and exotic vegetables.

Bakkavor recently made 35 people redundant at its site in Spalding Road, Bourne. A further 144 took voluntary redundancy at the factory, which handles bagged salads, stir fry, pre-cut vegetables and pre-cut fruit for supermarkets.