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Second jobs disaster for Durham City as Kerry Foods plant goes
A CITY has suffered its second jobs setback in two days, with a union saying all posts at a closure-threatened food production plant will be lost.
Only hours after Durhambased Peters Cathedral Bakers, which trades as Peters Bakery, went into administration – putting more than 400 jobs at risk – an Usdaw official said the Kerry Foods plant would close next month.
George Cain, the union’s regional organiser, said “a handful” of the 350 workers would be transferred to other Kerry sites, but the Durham unit, yards from Peters Bakery’s headquarters in Dragonville, would shut.
Plans to close the plant were announced in March.
Mr Cain said: “It is absolutely dire out there and I am afraid there will be more casualties before this ends.
“What a devastating thing to be happening for this area of Durham.”
He is due to meet Kerry workers to discuss retraining options today. No one at Kerry Foods could be contacted for comment last night.
Meanwhile, administrator KPMG is continuing to search for a buyer for Peters Bakery.
The firm, founded in Belmont, Durham City, in 1966, has a turnover of £12m a year, contracts with leading supermarkets, a direct mobile sales operation and employs 103 people in its Dragonville head office and factory, and 300 more across 58 stores across the North-East.
Yesterday, Alan Milne, regional officer with the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union, met Peters workers in Durham.
Afterwards, he said: “They are still in shock. A lot of people have worked for the company for years. It is a really sad situation. It’s a state-ofthe- art modern manufacturing unit and there are a lot of good, skilled workers. I hope somebody takes it on and makes it work.”
No deadline for finding a buyer has been announced, but KPMG will review the situation weekly.
Mr Milne said: “This Government’s cuts are starting to hit the high street.”
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North-East Chamber of Commerce, said the Peters announcement was terrible news for the workforce and a blow to the regional economy, and showed how difficult it was for smaller bakers to succeed.
KMPG said it expected to announce a number of redundancies within days.