Saputo plans to close a dairy facility in the UK next year, putting more than 150 jobs on the line.
The Canada-headquartered dairy giant, which acquired UK-based Dairy Crest in 2019, said employees at the Frome, Somerset site were informed last year about the company’s proposal to shift cheese packing from the factory in south-west England.
That plan is now coming to fruition as Saputo’s UK division plans to relocate cheese packing to its central England facility in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.
In a statement provided to Just Food, Saputo UK said 170 workers at the Frome plant “are affected by this decision”, although 180 new jobs are being created at the Nuneaton factory.
“Employees have been offered the opportunity to relocate to Nuneaton and everyone has been provided with outplacement support,” the company said.
Saputo added: “Collective consultation is currently underway so we cannot yet confirm when exactly the site will close, although it is expected to be in the first half of 2024, when all remaining employees will be made redundant.
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“Decisions such as this are never taken lightly. We believe that relocating these operations is right for the long-term future of Saputo Dairy UK as we maintain our efforts to pursue additional efficiencies and decrease costs while strengthening our market presence.”
Saputo has been consolidating operations elsewhere, namely in Australia and the US, as part of an exercise to cut costs.
Earlier in November, Saputo announced a review of its King Island Dairy cheese factory in Tasmania, Australia. The company had already shuttered its Maffra site in Victoria and is in the process of selling – subject to a competition review – a pair of facilities in Laverton North, Victoria, and Erskine Park, New South Wales, to retailer Coles.
Over in the US, Saputo plans to close its site in Lancaster in Wisconsin in the fourth quarter of its 2024 financial year, a three-month period that runs from January to the end of March next year.
In August last year, Saputo announced the closure of another plant in the state. The cheese factory in Belmont will shut in the same quarter as the Lancaster site. Saputo has recently converted a third plant in Wisconsin. The facility in Reedsburg will take on the production carried out in Lancaster.
Soon after acquiring Cathedral City cheese and Clover butter maker Dairy Crest, Saputo struck another deal in 2021 for cheese peer Wensleydale Dairy Products, including two plants in North Yorkshire.