ARLA FOODS UK announced on Thurs (Sept 30) it is to cut 440 jobs at its sites in Ruslip and Newcastle by the end of May 2005.

The Ruslip dairy will close at the end of Jan 2005 resulting in the loss of 290 jobs, but Express Foodservice will continue to operate from the site until alternative premises can be found.

Arla has stated that fresh milk deliveries to customers in London and the south east will not be affected by the closure.

The plant in Newcastle is due to close at the end of May 2005 and will result in the loss of 150 jobs.

Adrian Thompson, director of human resources at Arla Foods UK said: “We regret the need to announce the proposed closure of the Ruislip and Newcastle dairies.

“We will be helping affected employees with a comprehensive programme of support.

“All those affected by this announcement are being advised today and the employees‘ trade union representatives are being consulted. 

“Our intention is to give full support to affected staff to help them find alternative employment both within and outside the organisation, subject to the consultation process.”

The closures are expected to be the final phase of its factory closure programme which forms part of an efficiency review following the merger between Express Dairies and Arla UK in Oct 2003.