300 frozen food jobs under threat at Flintshire factory

image captionThe company makes more than 180 products at its Castle Park site in Flint

More than 300 jobs could be at risk after a company which makes frozen food in Flintshire confirmed it has entered a 90-day consultation with staff.

Headland Foods Ltd, in Flint, confirmed the news, but made no further comment, and the Welsh Assembly Government called it "extremely disappointing".

The company, which was established in 1990, cut 95 jobs last year, blaming a downturn in sales.

Delyn MP David Hanson said he contacted the firm but it had yet to respond.

There are concerns that a recent £15m investment at the firm's other plant in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, could result in the Flint factory being scaled down or closed.

The company's website says the investment at Grimsby "makes Headland Foods the first food company in the UK to install the latest fully automated lasagne line".

The company describes itself as a "leading manufacturer" of frozen, own label ready meals, producing more than two million meals weekly across the two sites.

It is part of the Prize Food Group, which was established in 1997, comprising Buckingham Foods and Cheviot Foods.

It makes more than 180 different products, including Italian and Indian frozen ready meals.

A spokeswoman said: "I can confirm we are entering into a 90-day consultation process."

She added: "It's far too early to speculate on the outcome of the process and our prime concern is to consult with our employees in a fair and responsible manner."

'Clarify the situation'

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said its officials were "in contact with the company's management and will offer all possible assistance."

"We hope that the 90-day consultation period provides an opportunity to identify ways for the company to progress in a manner which avoids any compulsory redundancies."

Delyn AM Sandy Mewies raised the matter with Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones and asked for help from the assembly government during First Minister's questions on Tuesday.

She added: "Firstly, we need to clarify the situation and to see whether there is any way these jobs can be kept in Flint.

"We must also ensure that every possible support and assistance is given to workers if they face the prospect of redundancy.

"Closure of this company would be a disaster for Flint and the surrounding area and is grim news particularly in the run-up to Christmas and in the present economic climate."

Mr Hanson said: "I'm trying to talk to them to find what the facts are and see what the situation is.

"I had a call from a constituent this morning who works there who was very concerned."

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