Bakery jobs go for housing

British Bakeries Eastleigh

Up to 90 bakery workers could be left struggling to earn a crust following an announcement by British Bakeries to close the Hovis bakery in Toynbee Road by June – a move which could see 191 houses built on the site.

Premier Foods, owners of British Bakeries announced last month they would be shedding up to 600 jobs – 5% of their 12,000 UK workface – as they struggle to refinance a debt mountain believed to be in the region of £800 million.

The proposed closure is described by the Daily Echo as:

“The latest hammer blow for manufacturing in Eastleigh”

Industry has previously been well represented in Eastleigh, but a series of closures and relocations over the last decade – with many major employers being off shored – means that manufacturing now only accounts for 6% of the local GDP.  Jobless figures for the town have now risen for the last eight months in a row to its highest level in almost two years.

Premier Foods CEO Michael Clarke said on the company website:

“While decisions to reduce the work force are always difficult I’m convinced we are taking the right steps in the long term interests of the business, employees and our stakeholders”

A strategic land availability assessment carried out by council planners last July identified the 5.6 hectare site as prime building land with room for up to 191 family dwellings and said it was an undesirable location for industrial use due to the traffic and noise generated by lorries along Toynbee Road – although it’s clear that the council did not anticipate the site becoming potentially available so soon.

Hopes will be raised among  campaigners that with the unexpected availability of a town centre Brownfield site suitable for development will result in scaling back of controversial plans to build on Greenfield land at Boorley and Stoneham.

See also Julian Robinson in The Daily Echo

  4 comments for “Bakery jobs go for housing

  1. February 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    This just goes to show that rising populations mean that this kind of thing has to happen. Along with the economy struggling and local, independent businesses suffering, it’s not going to get much better.

    This is why I believe community solutions like cooperatives are the future for the way we do things. If we come together as a community in a way that benefits the whole community, change can be possible!

    A possible solution is a Community Supported Bakery – read about this here: http://www.sustainweb.org/realbread/community_supported_baking/

  2. February 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    You have to wonder just how this company racked up an £800 million debt. An old school pal who has worked in the industry since leaving school told me a couple of years ago that this company were having money problems are were effectivly skint. Perhaps there is someone out there who knows how this situation came about.

    Gregs idea about a community supported bakery, although thought provoking would not likely work. There are already at least three small independent bakers in Eastleigh that come to mind, as well as the inhouse bakers in the big supermarkets which is probably one factor in the demise of British Bakers.

    Its interesting that the company still want to use the site as a distribution depot. Wheres the bread etc going to come from when the bakery closes down?

  3. mm
    Eastleigh Xpress
    February 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    You have to wonder just how this company racked up an £800 million debt. An old school pal who has worked in the industry since leaving school told me a couple of years ago that this company were having money problems are were effectivly skint. Perhaps there is someone out there who knows how this situation came about.

    Gregs idea about a community supported bakery, although thought provoking would not likely work. There are already at least three small independent bakers in Eastleigh that come to mind, as well as the inhouse bakers in the big supermarkets which is probably one factor in the demise of British Bakers.

    Its interesting that the company still want to use the site as a distribution depot. Wheres the bread etc going to come from when the bakery closes down?

    I understand £535 million is ‘just’ the pension deficit. The total debt was £1.4 BILLION last June.

    Biggest debt obligation is to Royal Bank of Scotland – in other words you and me!

    I’m guessing Hovis will now come from Avonmouth, the bakery was modernised and automated last year so I guess it now has spare capacity.

    I thought there was a distribution depot at Chandlers Ford?

    I can’t see building land in the Town being used as a trailer park for too long – particularly given there are traffic concerns.

    Interesting link there Greg. I like the idea of ‘Crowd Funding‘ – thats just what Eastleigh News needs!

  4. Peter Stewart
    February 17, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    The loss of another manufacturer from Eastleigh is a big blow.

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