South East Wales

Avana Bakeries, Newport, closes with 100 jobs lost

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAvana Bakeries reaches end of the line as 100 jobs go

A bakery in Newport is to shut on Friday after more than 60 years in the city, with the loss of about 100 jobs.

Owners Food Utopia said it regretted it could not find a way to keep the Avana Bakeries site financially viable.

The business was sold several times in recent years and has repeatedly cut staff since losing a major contract with Marks and Spencer (M&S) in 2014.

Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAW) said some members would work out their notice until the end of February.

It is understood some staff with stay on to produce highly-specialised cakes, but mass production has now finished.

"When we acquired the business in 2014, a five-year business plan was put in place to return the business to profit by 2017," a spokesman for Food Utopia said.

"Unfortunately the wider economy, raw material cost and capacity in the cake sector means that losses are substantial."

The Avana brand is said by its owners to be more than 120 years old, from small beginnings at a shop in Aberavon in 1890, to large factories in Dowlais and Cardiff in 20th Century.

Image caption Paul Murphy worked at the bakery until 2010

In the 1950s it consolidated its operations at the Rogerstone factory in Newport, with more than 1,000 employees on the books by 2002.

That year, it won a large contract for Christmas cakes with M&S, 12 months after a major fire at the factory.

Sold by Premier Foods to the 2 Sisters Food Group in 2011, the business was sold on again three years later to Food Utopia after the loss of the M&S contract and hundreds of redundancies.

John James, from BFAW said: "It's the end of an era to be honest, it's a really bad day - people who took pride in their work are suddenly losing that."

One former employee, Paul Murphy, who worked at Avana for 20 years until 2010, said it was a great place to work.

"I used to work 80 hours a week up there, my grandmother worked there, my auntie worked up there. It's very sad to see it go."

At the factory gate, Judith Bowles said she had worked at the site for less than two years, but still felt it was like being part of a family.

She added: "It's just a very sad atmosphere in there, it has been for a few weeks, everybody's sad about leaving and trying to find new jobs."

Related Topics

More on this story