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Greencore has opted to close its factory in the town of Northampton in the English Midlands, a week after the Ireland-headquartered convenience foods manufacturer reported hundreds of coronavirus cases at the plant.

The private-label giant said in a statement this afternoon (21 August) it hopes the site will “return to a substantial level of production within 14 days”. On 13 August, the ready meals, soups and sauces maker said 292 staff at the facility had tested positive for the virus amid a wider outbreak in the Northampton community. The same plant was also hit by Covid-19 in May.

Greencore said: “In consultation with the Department of Health & Social Care, Public Health England and other government bodies, it has taken the decision to temporarily cease production at its Northampton facility from the end of today as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak in the Northampton area and at the site. 

“This decision will allow all remaining colleagues at the site to self-isolate as a precautionary measure, and has been taken as part of the region’s ongoing efforts to reduce the spread of the virus and to keep colleagues safe.”

The London-listed company added that some of the production conducted at Northampton has been moved to other Greencore sites, and it is “working with the affected customer to help mitigate any production shortfall”.

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By GlobalData

Greencore estimates the temporary closure will have a “modest impact on adjusted EBITDA”. 

That metric rose 2.1% in the first half to GBP63.8m (US$83.6m) based on revenues of GBP712.7m. While the company did not provide EBITDA numbers late in July in a trading update for the third quarter to 26 June, it said reported revenue fell 34% to GBP240.6m.

It added in today’s statement: “Greencore has been in constant contact with PHE East Midlands, Northamptonshire County Council, Northampton Borough Council and other government bodies, who have been hugely understanding and supportive of the Group’s response. The Group will continue to work closely with them in order to bring the site back safely into production as soon as possible, as colleagues who are self-isolating begin to return.”