Food factory jobs under threat

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UP to 16 job cuts could be made at a Wisbech food factory it was announced this week.

Staff at Fountain Frozen in Salters Way were told about possible redundancies on Wednesday by site director Kevin Wilshire.

Speaking exclusively to the Citizen Mr Wilshire, who runs the company with Ken and James Lawrence, explained the difficult decision had been forced because of the need for modernisation.

He said the firm, which has a sister company - Fountain Foods - at Upwell currently employs 128 people and operates a three shift system.

All three shifts are under threat of job losses.

He explained the company, which produces frozen breaded, battered and natural onion rings, is currently investing £1.2m in a new automated packaging machine, which can be operated by one person.

Mr Wilshire said there was a need for modernisation to keep pace with industry competitors, particularly from abroad in countries such as Spain and Holland.

Fountain Frozen have owned the plant for the past three, since taking it over from Kerry Foods and Mr Wilshire said they have continued a plan of modernisation and improvement since then.

He explained many of the earlier improvements included modernisation of the workplace and redecoration, which did not affect jobs.

However, he said if the firm is to stay competitive and maintain its long-line of Blue-Chip clients, which include supermarket giants Tesco and Sainsury’s and fast food chain Burger King, it needs to continually invest and update equipment.

“It was an awful experience having to break the news of the possible redundancies to the staff. We are small company and we know all out employees - some of who are long servers, but we had to make a difficult decision. It was a case of lose a few jobs now and protect the future of the company, or face the possibility of everyone losing their jobs further down the line.

“The fact we are investing should be seen as a good sign for those employees who stay, because it shows our commitment and belief in our company,” said Mr Wilshire.