Muller Milk & Ingredients (MM&I) will begin a consultation next week to look at the closure of its Chadwell Heath dairy plant in north-east London, threatening 389 jobs.
MM&I have stressed that they will work with dairy farmers who supply the site to review their options with the intention that wherever possible, they will not be disadvantaged.
The 45-day consultation, which starts on 10 November, will examine the plant’s viability and analyse a potential 18-month wind-down of the Dagenham-based facility.
The move is part of a wider £100m restructuring of MM&I’s dairy operations, including upgrades to sites in Severnside, Foston, Droitwich, Manchester and Bridgwater.
Muller bought the plant from DairyCrest at the end of 2015, more than two-and-a-half years after the former owners had invested £5m in the site they described as going from strength to strength, in April 2013.
No longer viable
“Regrettably, it is clear that the dairy at Chadwell Heath is no longer economically viable,” said managing director of MM&I, Andrew McInnes.
“It requires a complete overhaul and modernisation and in an industry that has struggled for many years with excess and inefficient processing capacity, we cannot justify committing the level of investment that would be required to bring this site to an acceptable and sustainable level of performance.”
“Our proposal is to maintain and develop our distribution footprint in the south-east of England, but to wind down processing operations at Chadwell Heath over an 18-month period.”
He added, “We will enter the consultation with an open mind and a determination to listen to our colleagues and rigorously assess the situation in Chadwell Heath before arriving at a decision.”