Thorntons, the UK confectionery business owned by Italy’s Ferrero, has made an undisclosed number of redundancies at its site in the county of Derbyshire due to reorganisation and a protracted decline in retail traffic.

A company spokesperson said it launched a consultation process with employees at the Somercotes facility in the town of Alfreton at the start of the year, and the voluntary redundancies actioned so far are not related to the coronavirus outbreak. However, Thorntons added that process has come to a halt as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

Thorntons declined to provide the number of workers let go or any details on potential future lay offs. 

“No further proposals will be made currently, as we have temporarily put the consultation on hold due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation,” the spokesperson said. “At the start of the year, we launched a formal consultation process through which we seek to agree a series of proposals which we believe will enable us to deliver an organisational structure that will give us greater flexibility, more efficient operations and a reduced reliance on agency staff.”

The Alfreton plant has received a GBP40m (US$49.1m) investment since Ferrero acquired Thorntons in 2015, the spokesperson explained, adding that while “significant progress has been made” the company is facing a “challenging external environment due to changing consumer habits and the decline of the high street”.

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“Given this, our focus is on securing the future of Alfreton by making it a centre of excellence and a key hub for the Ferrero group in the production of assortments, as well as enabling it to produce more Ferrero products for the international market. 

“To achieve this aspiration and the commercial viability of Alfreton, we need to ensure we are producing the right mix of products and have the right machinery and infrastructure in place. We also need to make sure we have the right organisational structure.”