Crisp factory jobs could stay in region, says union

The Advertiser Series: KP Snacks' factory in Consett KP Snacks' factory in Consett

MORE than 100 jobs at a threatened crisp factory could stay in the region, a union has said.

KP Snacks plans to close its Consett plant and expand production at a sister site in Billingham, near Stockton.

However, the GMB Union told The Northern Echo it will push for talks with management to keep the posts in the North-East by transferring staff to Billingham or its base in Tanfield, near Stanley.

The company employs 103 workers at Medomsley Road, Consett, which makes Phileas Fogg crisps.

The brand is worth £15m a year to the company and previously put the County Durham town on the map in a television advertising campaign focusing on the fictional Punjab Airways and Consett Airport.

KP has confirmed it will continue making the crisps in spite of any future changes to its factories.

Suzanne Reid, from the GMB union, said she had consulted with staff and hoped KP could find a way of transferring roles.

She said: “We will be exploring the possibility of jobs being moved to Billingham and Tanfield.

“The company is spending millions on Billingham, which is fantastic for the workers and the local community there, so we will see if Consett staff can be taken there.

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“The workers are at their lowest point and absolutely devastated.

“They didn’t see it coming and are in a state of shock.

“They’re worried about their futures and there a number of couples who work at Consett, so it’s both of their incomes that will be affected by any changes.”

“These are just proposals at the moment and people have a lot of questions, but there are no concrete answers.”

Nick Bunker, KP Snacks chief executive, said the company, which was bought by Intersnack UK in 2013, was responding to market conditions.

He said: “We operate in an increasingly competitive market and need to focus on our cost base in order to develop a sustainable business.

“Now KP and Intersnack have integrated to form a larger UK business, we have the opportunity to expand at our larger Teesside site.

In addition, after many years of working hard to try and grow Consett, and despite the growth of Phileas Fogg, the under-utilisation of the site has created an unsustainable situation.

“We very much appreciate the hard work, commitment and focus on quality of our staff at this difficult time.

“These are only proposals and no final decisions have been made.”

Mr Bunker added a factory in Corby, Northamptonshire, employing about 80 workers, is also under threat.

Any closures are likely to take place next year.

See Phileas Fogg’s Punjab Airways’ Consett advertisement at youtube.com/watch?v=zmKXC9CYZwU

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