AROUND 860 people could be made redundant in Chard after one of the town biggest employers Oscar Mayer announced their Chard sites are at risk of closure.
Oscar Mayer, which produces ready meals for supermarkets across the UK from their Chard sites, has informed staff today (October 22) that it could be closing within a year.
The food giant will enter into consultation with employees over the proposed transfer of its Chard manufacturing business to its other UK sites over the next 12 months.
Oscar Mayer currently employs 860 people in Somerset, with all of them now at risk of redundancy.
The consultation period will start on November 10, and will run for a minimum of 45 days consultation, after which a final decision on the future of Oscar Mayer in Chard will be made.
The shock announcement follows the recent closure of the evening shift, which saw around 100 jobs lost.
Francois Legrain, Chief Executive of Oscar Mayer said:
“Consulting our colleagues on a potential closure has been a desperately difficult decision to come to.
“We believe we have exhausted every avenue to continue future production at Chard, and currently we are unable to see a way to make the economics of this site work in such a challenging market.
“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.
“I only hope it is of some reassurance that every measure will be taken to assist our colleagues in their search for meaningful alternative employment, should the time come.
“Until any decision is finalised, we are determined to continue to provide the highest standard of production to meet our valued customers’ demands.”
The closure of the evening shift was said to be a bid to improve efficiency in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on demand.
A spokesman for Oscar Mayer added: “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 sites are in need of refurbishment to future-proof their operation, yet such investment is considered to be neither practically nor financially viable given the existing configuration of the units.
“In an attempt to save local jobs, management has been looking at developing alternative sites in the area – such as at Millfield – but, in the end, this was not deemed feasible for their future needs.”