New jobs threat at Bernard Matthews

Bernard Matthews may cut a further 160 staff at its Great Witchingham plant in Norfolk due to unprofitability in the whole bird market.

The company has now entered a consultation period with staff over the possible job losses which would be phased in over a 12-month period.

Managing director Jeff Halliwell said: “We are two years into a four-year strategy to return the business to profitable growth and while the company’s results are moving in the right direction, we are still far from the levels of returns the business should be making.

“Key to this is the fact that the frozen whole bird part of our business is currently unprofitable.

“Rather than exit the frozen bird market we have carried out a detailed review of the operation, and have developed a plan that ensures this part of the business returns to profitability.

“The plan requires transferring the production of frozen whole birds to our Holton site in Suffolk. The move cannot be completed until early 2011, but it is our duty to explain the rationale and consult with staff and the union as early as possible.”

There was an earlier round of job cuts last summer at the Great Witchingham and Holton plants in order to increase efficiency.