A Nestlé confectionery facility in the UK has been sold weeks before it was due to close, the food giant has confirmed.

The facility in Fawdon, near Newcastle in north-east England, has been sold to local bakery business Country Style Foods. The deal relates to the premises only and the fate of the 475 Nestlé employees at the site remains uncertain.

In a brief statement sent to Just Food, a Nestlé spokesperson said: “We have been carefully exploring options for the future of Fawdon factory since we announced its planned closure.

“We are pleased to have exchanged contracts with an established local business to purchase the factory. The sale relates to the premises only and the business has not been transferred.”

Just Food has contacted Country Style Foods. It has yet to comment on the deal, which has been confirmed by local councillors who are part of a taskforce set up after the factory closure was announced early last year.

When Nestlé confirmed the closure, which had been the subject of a consultation exercise for nearly a year, it said it planned to switch production to other sites in the UK and overseas once the factory closed its doors at the end of 2023.

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The facility, a former Rowntree plant that has been operating since 1958, manufactures chocolate brands including Rolo, Toffee Crisp and Munchies, as well as sugar confectionery sold under the brands Fruit Pastilles, Fruit Gums and Jelly Tots.

Local newspaper reports have speculated Country Style Foods, a bakery firm headquartered in Leeds in northern England, could employ some of the Nestlé workers in its newly-acquired plant.

The Newcastle Chronicle said it understood Country Style Foods will be on the Fawdon factory site in the coming weeks to meet with Nestlé employees and to discuss employment options.

Country Style Foods, which supplies supermarket in-store bakeries and the foodservice channel with bread, cakes and other baked goods, has a number of production sites in the north of England.