Assurance over future of factory

A HARTLEPOOL factory is safe and flourishing despite a nearby processing plant facing potential closure.

The reassuring message came today from bosses at the Irish-based company Kerry Foods, which owns sites in both Durham City and Hartlepool.

Bosses told 350 workers at the processing plant in Durham City that their jobs were at risk.

The factory at Rennies Lane, Gilesgate, in Durham, which makes a range of cooked meats and meat snacks, has been hit by a downturn in business and could face closure by the end of July.

Director of corporate affairs Frank Hayes said: “A 90-day consultation with the workforce in Durham will begin immediately.”

Union officials at Usdaw represent more than half the Durham employees.

Joanne Thomas, Usdaw’s North-East divisional officer, said: “Many of our members have worked at the site for years and a number even work alongside their parents or sons and daughters so any closure could destroy the incomes of entire families.”

Meanwhile, operations at the Hartlepool plant, which operates under the Kerry Ingredients banner, are looking rosy and are in no way affected by Durham’s news, say company chiefs.

Mr Hayes said: “That business is not affected by this, even though it is part of the same organisation.

“Hartlepool is a separate business which has shown recent growth and satisfactory growth.

“We have made a significant investment at that site.”

Kerry returned to operations in Hartlepool in June 2008.

The plant in Brenda Road had closed in 2006, but was taken over by the Kerry Ingredients division, which makes food preparations and ingredients for a range of sauces, solutions and fillings.

It began a recruitment drive to find 75 staff for the new “culinary ingredients operation” which would employ production and warehouse operatives as well as multi-skilled engineers.