Chard's Oscar Mayer sites to close risking 860 jobs

Image caption,
The ready meals company has three sites in Chard, Somerset

A food company which employs 860 people in Somerset is proposing to relocate its business to other parts of the UK.

Oscar Mayer has three sites in Chard which the company claims are too expensive to modernise due to the demands of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief executive Francois Legrain said the potential closures were "a desperately difficult decision to come to".

The GMB trade union has been asked or comment.

Image caption,
Chief executive Francois Legrain and chief commercial officer Alan Wotton say staff are now being consulted

Depending on the outcome of consultations, all three sites will close in the next 12 months.

In a statement the firm said: "The adverse trends in this demand are not showing signs of recovery, and more significant action is now required to protect the long-term future of the group.

"Oscar Mayer is far from alone in having to meet these challenges."

The management had looked at sites in Millfield, but decided moving there would "not be feasible".

"Oscar Mayer fully recognises its responsibility to the local community and sincerely regrets the distress and disappointment this move may cause.

"This closure, should it occur, is no reflection on the talent and capability of our dedicated staff, who have worked exceptionally hard to help us increase efficiency, for which we remain extremely grateful," added Mr Legrain.

The consultation period begins on 10 November and will run for at least 45 days, when a final decision will be made.

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