All of Amble is going through this together

Posted on 20th October 2010 | in Business News , News

Update 22.10.2010:
There has been some activity at the Northumberland Foods factory recently, with cleaning staff being brought in.
We will keep you posted on any official news as soon as we can.

Northumberland Foods logoThere is still no official news of a buyer for Northumberland Foods, after the frozen potato factory closed its doors in August, making over 200 people redundant.

Potato growing co-operative Borders Premium Potatoes Ltd ruled itself out of the running as a potential buyer, citing a lack of time given to them to make a decision.

Managing Director George Best told The Ambler, “We looked at it, but we decided it’s not for us. We were informed as a supplier that the factory was up for sale, but they said it had to be done in a couple of days. We decided it can’t be done in such a short space of time. It’s crazy, you can’t make a decision like that in such a short time. It’s a shame for us – it’s a shame for Amble too. We’re not saying the asking price was too dear, but you need time to look through the books properly. If we’d known from the off, maybe it could have been a done deal. We’ve been supplying the factory with potatoes for 16 years, first when it was Jus Roll, then Cheviot Foods and now Northumberland Foods. We held a meeting of all our members and it was unanimously decided that it was too quick.”

Administrators Begbies Traynor said they had no comment to make on Border Premium’s decision. In a separate statement they announced that they are looking to find a buyer for the factory building and contents –  which they believe will make the offer more enticing to any potential buyer. Amble Asset LLP owns the property, plant and machinery of Northumberland Foods.

A long time employee of Northumberland Foods gave The Ambler his view on the main problems the company had faced in recent times. “Back when it was Jus Roll, Grand Met took over and invested a lot of money. A lot of what you see in the factory now was initially put in by them; fireproof ceilngs, walls, special flooring etc.”
But he claimed that a lack of investment since then caused the factory day to day running problems.

“We need investment. Repairs to equipment has been the main problem. Part of the reason we had to work weekends was because of breakdowns during the week, and because of extra orders. The management were keeping it afloat but there was no real investment. On numerous occasions the potatoes actually ran out.”

Another worker told The Ambler about her circumstances: “Five members of our family – me, my husband, two of his brothers and one sister-in-law – have all been made redundant. My husband worked there for 18 years and built his career there, beginning as a process operator and ending as the production planner. The impact on our family has been tremendous, but we are all supporting each other and getting through this tough time. One of my brothers-in-law has already found a new job and I’ve been attending some interviews, as well. Hopefully the community can stand together and try to help each other out, as it seems that all of Amble is going through this together.”

Anna Williams
Updated 20.10.2010  The original version of this article was published on 03.09.2010

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