Mars’ chocolate business in France is introducing flexible working at its main plant in Haguenau, which produces M&M sweets and Milky Way chocolate bars for pan-European distribution.

Mars Chocolat France plans to reduce overtime and weekend work at the facility, which employs 350 staff.

The move comes in response to the decline in the chocolate confectionery market since June 2008. Between January and early-March, the value of Mars France’s supermarket sales declined by 10% on the same period last year, compared to 6% for the French market as a whole.   

Mars said it has signed an agreement with labour unions on the re-organisation and flexibility of working time at the plant, which it said will allow jobs and basic wages to be preserved.

“Our plan is that the normal working week of 31 hours for production staff at the plant should not be affected. Some weeks, staff may work more hours than this and other weeks, fewer. But over the year, the number of hours will even out. The priority is to be flexible and to maintain jobs,” a company spokesman told just-food today (1 April).