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Greggs says workers at its Newcastle head office could be affected
DOZENS of North-East workers face uncertainty after a bakery chain revealed plans to axe more than 400 posts.
Pie and pasty maker Greggs wants to cut 300 jobs across its in-store bakeries and 110 management positions, including roles at its Newcastle head office.
Bosses say they expect less than 50 office workers will be affected in the North-East, and hope to create some new posts in any changes.
The firm employs about 400 workers at its regional head office, and has close to 20,000 members of staff across the UK.
Its 300 bakery workers, who make fresh products every day in 79 outlets, operate across the South and West Midlands in stores remaining from Greggs' previous acquisition of the Bakers Oven chain.
The company says it wants to move that in-store work to its regional bakery network, which includes a site in Gosforth making products every day for the firm's 1,671 shops.
The potential changes come after the firm, founded in the 1930s when John Robson Gregg sold eggs and yeast from his bicycle, implemented a review last summer aimed at targeting further growth in the UK's £6bn food-on-the-go snack industry.
Richard Hutton, Greggs' finance director, told The Northern Echo the plans would strengthen its position in the convenience market.
He said: “The 79 stores bake the bread and cakes in the back of the shop so it is fresh for the morning, whereas in the rest of the country we deliver our products to stores for sale that morning.
“Those outlets with in-store bakeries are the legacy of our acquisition of the Bakers Oven chain.
“As we are carrying out re-fits in our stores, we are re-modelling our structure to support our regional bakery network, which already includes our bakery in Gosforth.
“We are also centralising roles in management and a few more roles could be brought back to the North-East.
“We very much regret the impact on any jobs these changes are causing because our loyal staff work extremely hard to produce our products.
“We will be consulting with them and offering support exactly like a company such as Greggs should do.”
The firm says the cuts would save £6m a year from the middle of 2015, with any changes expected to be carried out over the next 18 months.
It revealed the proposals after enjoying a strong festive trading period, with like-for-like sales increasing 3.1 per cent in the five weeks to January 4, thanks to sales of sandwiches, sweet bakery products and mince pies.
Roger Whiteside, chief executive, said he regretted making any redundancies.
He said: “You always feel down over the impact on people caused by job announcements, but we will act sensitively with those involved and try to mitigate that impact.
“We improved trading as we progressed through the year, in part reflecting our new bakery food-on-the-go strategy, and while we face a number of challenges, we remain confident of making further progress in 2014.”