PepsiCo is planning to close a Walkers crisps plant in north-eastern England.

The US food and beverage giant is looking to shut its facility in Peterlee in Country Durham and transfer production to other UK sites.

Tracey Foster, manufacturing director at the site, said: “In order to improve the efficiency of our UK snacks manufacturing operations, we are proposing the closure of our factory at Peterlee.

“Peterlee has been an important site for our business but the changes we are proposing present significant productivity and efficiency savings crucial for ensuring the long-term sustainable growth of our business in the UK.”

Foster did not comment on media reports that said around 400 jobs could be lost as a result of the closure. However, she said: “We appreciate this is upsetting news for everyone at the Peterlee site. It is a difficult proposal for us to put forward and we want to make clear that it in no way reflects the performance of our colleagues at Peterlee, who we are grateful to for their hard work and commitment.

“No decisions will be made without first consulting employees and their representatives. We would also like to reassure colleagues that we will be providing on-going support and assistance from this point onwards.”