South East Wales

Avana Bakeries: Jobs threat as Newport site set to close

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Media captionFood Utopia said the site had been running at a loss

About 150 people face losing their jobs at a Newport bakery under plans to close the site.

Food Utopia said it was consulting on plans to end production at Avana Bakeries by the end of January.

The bakery in Rogerstone had been "unable to make sufficient progress in an increasingly competitive market", its owners said.

The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union said staff were told of the proposal on Wednesday.

Food Utopia said the site had been running at a loss and was "financially unsustainable".

Union spokesman John James said a 45-day period of consultation would start on Thursday.

"There's too much cake production in the country anyway and obviously with the fear over sugar with people's waistlines, they don't tend to eat cakes as much as they used to," he added.

In a statement, Food Utopia said: "We will continue to explore all options available and seek as much external support as possible as we begin discussions about the future of the operation.

"We fully recognise the impact this proposal will have, which is why our total focus now will be to support our colleagues during this difficult time."

Independent Rogerstone councillor Chris Evans said: "It's been a key part of the community for decades.

"It brings people into the community from the valley areas and other parts of Newport... so the shockwaves of this will resonate throughout south east Wales."

A Welsh Government spokesman said the announcement "gives significant cause for concern for staff employed at the site and comes at a particularly difficult time of year".

He added: "We will work with the employer and partners to ensure that the affected employees are offered every possible support and assistance."

Food Utopia took over Avana Bakeries in July 2014 after its previous owners said 650 jobs were at risk after losing a contract with Marks and Spencer.

At that time, there were still 552 people employed there.

The following month, is was reported that Food Utopia had plans to cut 390 jobs.

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