ALMOST 300 jobs are under threat with the closure of an East Durham factory.
Young’s Seafood has confirmed it is shutting the former Cumbrian Seafoods plant on Seaham’s Foxcover Industrial Estate, which it took over last December, with the loss of more than 280 jobs.
Chief operating officer Pete Ward said: “Following formal consultations at the former Cumbrian Seafoods sites in Seaham and Whitehaven, lasting over three months, we are announcing that volume from these sites will be transferred into Young’s Seafood Limited’s existing facilities.
“Unfortunately, the phased transfer of volume is likely to result in the closure of the Seaham and Whitehaven sites with the loss of up to 281 jobs in Seaham and 99 jobs in Whitehaven, in the next month.”
Cumbrian went into administration on December 5 last year and was bought by Young’s Seafood’s parent company Lion Capital. The firm has been in formal talks with staff since January.
“The consultations at the Seaham and Whitehaven sites have involved numerous meetings with the employee representative groups and local stakeholders and alternative options were considered in detail,” said Mr Ward.
“We would like to stress this is not a decision that has been taken lightly and does not, in any way, reflect on the committed and experienced teams at these sites.
“They have continued to work hard during this period and are a credit to the whole workforce. Our priority is to continue to fulfil customer contracts, alongside ensuring that the employees affected by this announcement get the support they need by working closely with them, local agencies and other key stakeholders.”
Stewart Watkins, managing director of Business Durham, Durham County Council’s business arm, said: “This is very disappointing news, particularly in light of all the hard work that has been carried out during the consultation process.
“Business Durham is working with the companies involved to minimise the impact of this announcement and will continue to support the relevant agencies to help the workforce as much as possible.”
North East Euro MP Fiona Hall, who had urged Young’s boss to give workers a fair chance to turn the business around, said:
“I am dismayed that Young’s have decided to close the Seaham plant. This will be a big blow to the local community.
“With such excellent facilities and staff on site, there was real hope that Young’s intervention would allow the company to come through a difficult period. So it is surprising and deeply disappointing that they have so quickly moved toward closure.
“I appreciate the promises being made by the company to help staff to find new jobs. It would make sense for Young’s to utilise the expertise in the workforce by finding roles for them elsewhere in the company.”