More reaction today poured in to the news 250 jobs are at risk at one of East Staffordshire’s major employers.
Political leaders had their say on the bad news, which was broken to workers at Fox’s Biscuits, in Uttoxeter, yesterday.
Early morning shift workers at the Uttoxeter factory, which employs 780 people, were reportedly the first to be told.
And on top of the factory roles at risk, another 50 will go from Fox’s distribution hubs in Uttoxeter and Wakefield, with the work set to be outsourced.
BurtonLive will be getting reaction as workers head to the factory the day after the announcement.
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Read how we have covered the story below:
It is a ‘worrying time’ said the MP
Andrew Griffiths, MP for Burton and Uttoxeter, said: “This is a worrying time and everyone who works at Fox’s will be concerned about their futures. I am in contact with the management at Fox’s to arrange an urgent meeting to understand the cause of these redundancies and what practically can be done to help the company.
“On Monday I am meeting at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with the Secretary of State Greg Clark MP, to discuss what help and support is available.”
Some workers have spent most their working life at Fox’s
The worker added: “It’s decent pay, certainly liveable. A lot of people have come here when they were 18 and started families.
“They’ll probably be on minimum wage if they lose their jobs here.”
Concerns over finding new jobs
The worker said: We’ve just got to plod on really, but it’s hard when you’ve got bills to pay and families to feed.
“It’s especially bad if you don’t drive, because there’s nothing else in town. Town’s dead.”
‘A lot of people are really annoyed’ – the worker continues
They said: “It’s a big loss for 250 out of 780 to go. You could see on a lot of people’s faces they were really annoyed.
“I think it’s come as a shock because there are people who have been here more than 30 years who might be losing their jobs.”
One worker says it was “quiet yesterday” after the announcement
Another anonymous worker said: “It’s been a bit of a shock. This is the main work in town.
“It was very quiet yesterday after the announcement was made.
“It’s all a bit uncertain – do we start looking for a new job or not?
“We’ve had our consultations and find out within 41 days, so do we try to get another job in the meantime?”
‘People are gutted’ – one worker has said
One worker, who wants to remain anonymous, said: “People are gutted. A few people were a bit angry and upset when they were told.
“I think today people are just resigned to it. People are making the best of it and putting on a brave face.
“It’s a big blow. My reaction was if they offered me a good redundancy package I’d take it and I know a few others who feel that way.”
Leader looking to meet with 2 Sisters bosses
Councillor Grosvenor has said he is trying to arrange a meeting with Fox’s chiefs to further discuss their plans.
Job losses will have knock-on effect
Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said:
“This is bad news for Uttoxeter and the surrounding area.
“Fox’s has traditionally drawn its loyal, hardworking workforce from the local community and this could have a real effect not only on those directly involved, but local shops and businesses too.
“If these proposals come to pass we will work with local partners and the Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership to see how we can best help those affected in terms of practical support and retraining opportunities for the jobs that are available.”
Fox’s ‘will not have made this decision lightly’
Richard Grosvenor, leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council, said:
“Obviously this is incredibly upsetting news for those affected, including Fox’s, who will not have made this decision lightly. I hope they can fully support those people affected by this so that they and their families will face only minimal impact. To that end I hope the fact that generally speaking the economy is in a good space with record employment and wages growth higher than prices growth will help in that.”
‘Not enough jobs in Uttoxeter to pick up the slack’
Jess Williamson, 28, from Uttoxeter, said:
My mum currently works there.
I know recently they had changed a lot shifts around which hasn’t gone down well with some people.
If nearly one third were to be made redundant there wouldn’t be enough jobs in Uttoxeter to pick up the slack.
It’s convenient for people. My mum doesn’t have to travel far and it keeps her going. A lot of people who walk there and don’t drive. so would be stuck and would struggle to get to work out of town.
This is what we know so far
Check out our story of everything we know about this so far
History of Fox’s Biscuits in Uttoxeter
In the early 1900s Samuel Elkes opened a confectionary shop in Uttoxeter and in 1928 a purpose built biscuit factory was opened on the current site. In 1986 the company was bought by Northern Foods and was run as Elkes Biscuits, later becoming Fox’s Biscuits.
Average weekly production at Uttoxeter is 1,000 tonnes and 50,000 tonnes per annum.
Fox’s Biscuits in Uttoxeter is known for the biscuit barrel and is the home of Fox’s malted milk biscuits.
‘Another nail in the coffin’ for town
A resident of Cheadle Road, who asked to be anonymous, said:
It’s such a shame. We’re living in a dying town anyway with the high street closing lots of different shops.
It’s another nail in the coffin. It has been there decades and decades.
We’re in a nice area for employment but that will change if these jobs go.
My neighbour works there and does the night shift so she’ll be probably be told tonight. My heart goes out to her, she’s got two young children.
Jobs are at risk at Fox’s
Biscuits made by Fox’s
The biscuits currently manufactured by Fox’s are:
- Rocky (Chocolate, Caramel, Orange[Limited Edition], Crispy Crunch)
- Rocky Chockas (Double Choc, Toffee, Honeycomb)
- Rocky Rocks (Chocolate or Crispy Crunch)
- Echo (Mint, Orange, Chocolate)
- Cookie Bars
- Viennese (Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate)
- Millionaire’s Shortcake
- Shortcake Rounds
- Extremely Chocolatey Cookie
- Chunk Cookie (Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate)
- Crunch Creams (Ginger, Golden, Chocolate Fudge, Classic, Double Choc)
- Creams (Rich Tea, Jam Ring, Malted Milk, Nice, Classic)
- Crinkles (Butter, Ginger, Coconut, Milk Chocolate)
- Dunkers (Oaty, Shortcake)
- Party Rings
- Minis (Buttery and Oaty)
- Bourbon biscuit
- Speciality Brandy Snaps
- Luxury Chocolate Carton
- Wholemeal Cracker (Original, Tomato & Red Pepper, Cheese & Onion and Sunflower Seed & Honey)
Union to give ‘maximum support’ to staff
Unite regional officer Rick Coyle said:
The news that the management at Fox’s Biscuits is planning to reduce the 700-strong workforce at the Uttoxeter site in East Staffordshire by up to 240 jobs by August this year is a massive blow to the workforce, their families and the regional economy. It will cause real economic pain.
Nationally, we are pressing for an urgent meeting with the parent company, 2 Sisters Food Group.
We are having our first meeting with the shop stewards and management on Friday (22 March) where we will digest the full implications of this announcement. It is not possible to comment more fully until we have studied the business case in detail.
Unite will be giving maximum support to our hundreds of members at Uttoxeter in the days and weeks ahead at what is a difficult time for the workforce.
‘To lose decent jobs is a real blow’
Paul Walker, chairman of the East Staffordshire Labour Party and East Staffordshire Trades Council, said:
Any job losses in the constituency are a bad thing, but certainly jobs at Fox’s, which will be comparatively well paid, are devastating in the low-wage economy that’s emerged.
Obviously, there’ll be a redundancy process and it’ll be covered by the Unite Union, who represent at lot of workers there, and their full-time officer will pick this up.
Hopefully, with good collective bargaining, we’ll see some of these jobs saved.”We haven’t got many decent jobs in the area, so to lose them is a real blow.
Company created more than 70 new jobs last year
Below is a story that we published in Feburary 2018.
A company employing hundreds of workers in Uttoxeter is seeing demand soar as it creates 74 new full-time jobs.
Fox’s Biscuits is Uttoxeter’s second-biggest employer and advertised for shop floor jobs at its factory in town last year.
Now growing demand for its products has seen the firm, which owned by 2 Sisters Food Group, create 74 jobs at its factory in Batley, West Yorkshire.
Stephen Mulligan, Fox’s Biscuits general manager, said: “We are really pleased to announce these new roles.
“Fox’s Biscuits are very proud of our heritage in Batley and to be able to play such a key part in the local community.”
Fox’s took over historic Uttoxeter biscuit maker Elkes, which had run the factory for almost a century, in 2003.
An average of 1,000 tonnes of biscuits are produced at the Cheadle Road factory, which employs around 1,000 workers.
Speaking about the latest recruitment drive, Batley and Spen Labour MP Tracy Brabin said: “I am thrilled to hear that a fantastic local business that is so committed to the community is continuing to thrive at a time of great economic uncertainty.
“I was also very encouraged to hear about the firm’s dedication to training and upskilling their staff – something that is vital with the increased automation of industry we will see over the coming years.
“Fox’s Biscuits is an extremely important business here in Batley and I look back fondly on my time on the production lines in my late teens.
“I hope the business continues to thrive and remains an integral part of the Batley landscape for decades to come.”
Fox’s has 700 full-time, permanent employees and, including temporary workers, its workforce can swell to 1,300 during times of peak demand, such as in the run up to Christmas.
The Batley biscuit giant produces an average of 550 tonnes of biscuits a week and has a big involvement in the local community, sponsoring the town’s rugby league club Batley Bulldogs.
Fox’s, founded in Batley in 1853, is now owned by the 2 Sisters Food Group and makes brands including Crunch Creams, Chunkie Cookies and Rocky chocolate biscuits.
Mr Mulligan said: “We’re delighted by the continued support Tracy gives to Fox’s Biscuits and we will continue to grow this relationship.”
Uttoxeter factory has been in town for more than 50 years
The Uttoxeter factory had been run by town-based firm Elkes (pioneers of Malted Milk) for nearly half a century when Fox’s took it over in 2003.
It produces around 1,000 tonnes of biscuits a year.
Mayor is ‘sorry’ to hear about redundancies
Uttoxeter mayor Alison Trenery said:
I’m really sorry to hear about these redundancies – the news comes as a big shock and will significantly impact families in Uttoxeter.
I hope anyone affected can find alternative employment and Fox’s will help them find it.
The factory has been a major, major employer in Uttoxeter for decades and a big part of the town’s heritage.
It’s been at the centre of town life for a long, long time.
The town council will certainly be expressing its concern to the owners of Fox’s.
It’s a worrying time for manufacturers in the UK at the minute, with a lot of uncertainty with the Brexit situation.
More jobs to go at distribution centres
A company spokesman added:
Additionally, a smaller number of colleagues, circa 50, at our Uttoxeter and Wakefield distribution centres will also enter into consultation as we explore proposals to out-source thiswarehousing work.
Our key priority now is to hold meaningful discussions with all affected colleagues and their representatives and ensure we explore all possible options before coming to any final decisions.
Company confirms around 250 jobs are at risk
A spokesman for Fox’s Biscuits said:
Fox’s Biscuits has recently committed to a major investment plan to maximise new growth and commercial opportunities.
As part of this plan,we have informed colleagues there are number of tough decisions tomake as we review manufacturing capabilities to give us the best possible chance of sustained success.
Regrettably, our loss-making site in Uttoxeter requires urgent attention and biscuitproduction lines need re-configuring to ensure it has a longer-term, viable future.
This means we will be entering into consultation with our colleagues around proposals to restructure the site. Circa 250 roles will be at risk of redundancy.
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