450 jobs at risk as Morrisons announces closure of Bradford packing plant

Shop workers’ union USDAW said it is in consultation with Morrisons after the supermarket chain announced plans to close its manufacturing centre at Cutler Heights Lane, Bradford, putting more than 450 jobs at risk.

Morrisons said it plans to transfer the work to  its fruit packing plant at Thrapston, Northamptonshire, which has recently expanded, and its distribution centre in Wakefield, creating 400 new jobs at those sites.

The 11-acre Cutler Heights Lane site, which opened in 1976, was Morrisons’ first vegetable packing plant. It currently supplies 59 fruit products and 11 million packs of fruit annually.

The transfer, which Morrisons says will save 650,000 food miles annually and create other efficiency savings, is due to take place in the second half of this year.

A spokesperson for Morrisons said, “Morrisons currently operates two fruit packing sites at Thrapston, Northamptonshire, and Cutler Heights in Yorkshire.  Recent investments in the Thrapston site has created more capacity and space which has made consolidation of the two sites possible.  After very careful review and evaluation, we propose to move ahead with a consolidation at Thrapston in the second half of 2023.

“Regrettably, the proposal to consolidate two sites means that there are 456 colleagues at Cutler Heights who are at risk of redundancy.  We will do everything we can to employ those colleagues in other Morrisons manufacturing, logistics and retail sites in the local area.  Over 400 new roles will be created at the Thrapston site and in our Wakefield distribution centre.”

The spokesperson added that the firm plans to repurpose Cutler Heights to a pet food manufacturing operation, but that this would take some time.

USDAW national officer Joanne McGuiness said, “This is obviously devastating news for the staff impacted by today’s company announcement.

“We will now enter into consultation talks with the company, starting this week, where will interrogate the business case for their proposal. Our priorities are to keep as many staff employed by Morrisons as possible and to get the best deal for our members. In the meantime we are providing Usdaw members with the support, advice and representation they need at this difficult time.”

The supermarket is set to transfer more than 200 contact centre jobs at its Gain Lane offices to outside contractor Webhelp today. The transfer, which Morrisons said involved no redundancies, was announced in May. The firm said staff’s pay, terms and conditions, and length of service would be protected.

Morrisons, which was acquired by PE firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in 2021, is conducting a three-year programme to cut costs by £700m.

The frim saw a 3.1% rise in sales excluding fuel in the second quarter of this year, but overall revenues fell 0,9% to £4.5m due to lower fuel sales.

The firm added 107 new convenience shops during the second quarter, to a total of nearly 650 shops, and said it expected its convenience business to be in profit by year end. It also said it was on track for EBITDA – down 10.7% in the first half due it investments and inflationary headwinds – to be up by year end.