UK – Pilgrim’s UK, one of the UK’s leading food companies and pork producers, has confirmed the closure of its two large factories in Bury St.Edmunds and Coalville, putting at least 650 jobs at risk.

The company has been based in the town for more than 30 years and runs a food production process from farm to fork.

It manages four manufacturing sites dedicated to producing pork and lamb meat products for upmarket retailer Waitrose.

When Pilgrim UK revealed plans for the proposals in September, it said it would place around 290 employees at Bury St Edmunds and 350 employees at Coalville at risk of redundancy.

In a statement, Pilgrims UK said: “Following the conclusion of collective and one-to-one consultations, Pilgrim’s UK has decided to implement the proposals to close our Bury St Edmunds and Coalville manufacturing sites. This will be a phased process while the transfer of products to alternative Pilgrim’s UK sites takes place.”

Production from Coalville and Bury St Edmunds will be switched to Dalehead Foods in Corsham and Pilgrim’s factories in Andover in Hampshire, Linton in Cambridgeshire, and King’s Lynn in Norfolk.

A spokesperson for Pilgrim’s UK said it was “too early” to speculate on whether or how many more jobs might come to Corsham following the switch in production to Dalehead Foods.

Dalehead, which stands to gain from the closure of the two factories, already employs more than 300 people in Corsham and launched a recruitment drive for skilled and unskilled people in September 2021 to support its ongoing expansion plans.

The company noted the key part of its business recovery plan includes ensuring that its operational footprint across the UK is fully optimized.

As part of this process, Pilgrim’s UK identified that some sites were “significantly under-utilized” in terms of operational capability and capacity.

The closure succeeds a statement from Pilgrims UK, which revealed the UK pig sector is facing the most challenging time in its history.

It is owed to a combination of significant increases in production costs, falling pig prices across Europe and the UK, a decline in demand, labor shortages and restrictions on the ability to export from some sites into key overseas markets.

The company has also cut production at its factory in Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester to a four-day week, threatening 35 more jobs.

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