Up to 300 jobs are at risk at London-based ready meals company Bakkavör Meals after it lost a contract to supply Tesco with mashed potato.
Bakkavör – one of the UK’s biggest ready meals companies, which provides prepared foods from salad to pizza and stir fries to all the major supermarket chains – has begun a 45-day consultation with 280 agency staff and 30 employees about potential job losses. It hopes to transfer about two-thirds of the staff affected to shifts making hummus, sales of which are rising.
The GMB union, which represents staff at three Bakkavör product plants in Park Royal, north-west London, said the £32m contract was equivalent to 16% of its turnover.
Bakkavör said: “For some time the business has been impacted by difficult trading conditions in a highly competitive marketplace. We believe Bakkavör Meals needs to adapt to the changing market in which it operates to ensure that it remains and, where possible, becomes more competitive to deliver future growth.”
Tony Warr, GMB’s senior organiser, said Bakkavör had proposed a new shift pattern reducing workers’ hours from 40 to 38 a week. “GMB believes it is wrong and totally unnecessary for the company to cut our members’ hours and pay,” he added.
Tesco has been restructuring its relationships with suppliers as part of efforts to simplify its ranges and cut prices. In November, Carlsberg said it would axe up to 100 UK staff after Tesco stopped stocking some of its beer.
Industry watchers say UK food suppliers and farmers face increasing pressure from Britain’s supermarket price war, with their profit margins cut by more than a third.
This article was written by Sarah Butler, for theguardian.com on Monday 18th January 2016 15.50 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010