HUNDREDS of jobs are under threat at a Seaham seafood factory just weeks after reportedly being saved.
Cumbrian Seafoods went into administration early last month and its customer contracts and equipment were immediately snapped up by rival Young’s.
Now Young’s has unveiled plans to axe 363 jobs at Cumbrian’s Seaham plant and merge the business with its existing operations.
Staff were told yesterday the firm was starting formal consultations over the future of Seaham and former Cumbrian sites in Whitehaven and Amble.
If the proposals are implemented, up to 363 jobs will go in Seaham, 112 in Whitehaven and 80 in Amble.
Youngs issued a statement yesterday, outlining the reasons for its decision.
“During December, executives from Young’s Seafood Limited spent time at the former Cumbrian Seafoods sites, talking to members of staff and reviewing operations. It is clear from the fact that Cumbrian Seafoods went into administration that the business model for the Cumbrian sites was not financially viable and restructuring is now needed.”
Young’s chief operating officer Pete Ward said: “We want to ensure that we deliver quality products for our customers in the most effective and efficient way. This is the beginning of a journey and we will draw on the knowledge and experience of the employees at the sites.
“This move does not reflect on the committed and skilled teams in Seaham, Whitehaven and Amble, who are continuing to work hard through this time, which is a huge credit to the whole workforce.
“However, it is clear from the fact that the business went into administration that the current business model is not viable. We continue to be focused on fulfilling customer contracts and talking, in detail, with the employees about options for the future.”
One employee, who did not wish to be named, said the decision had come as a shock given how new the Seaham site was – it opened in 2007.
“We thought, with it being a new factory with new equipment, that Young’s were going to maybe take a little bit of time to look at it,” he said.
“It is a prime location, next to the A19 and close to the A1.
“It has come as a bit of a shock because we are one of the most modern factories in the country when it comes to seafood.”
Stewart Watkins, managing director of the County Durham Development Company – the business arm of Durham County Council – said: “This is clearly worrying news for the Cumbrian Seafoods sites and particularly for its major operation at Seaham.
“We recognise, however, that these are difficult times and we will do whatever is possible to support the company and its employees.
“The Seaham facility is an extremely modern one with an excellent workforce and I would hope that, in reviewing the distribution of volumes between sites, consolidation at Seaham is one option that is under consideration.”