St Albans jobs under threat at Premier Foods

THE ST ALBANS-based head office of Premier Foods, the firm behind iconic British brands such as Hovis and Mr Kipling, has announced the business is to axe about 600 jobs nationally.

The UK’s largest food producer’s cost-saving programme will result in staff numbers being slashed, with around five per cent of the company’s current 12,000-strong workforce expected to face redundancy

But the firm is keeping tight-lipped about how many, if any, jobs will be lost at its St Albans office, located at Griffiths Way.

Lisa Attenborough, director of communications at Premier Foods, which operates from 55 sites throughout the UK, would neither confirm the number of staff working in the city nor comment on possible jobs losses locally.

She said: “We don’t break down the number of employees by site. It is far too early to be speculating about the total number of redundancies.”

St Albans MP Anne Main said she was saddened by the firm’s announcement on Tuesday.

She went on: “It has been suggested to me that Premier Foods employs as many as 600 people in my constituency. Any job losses are always a blow and I hope that in these difficult times Premier Foods makes every effort to retain local people.

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“Premier Foods is an extremely important employer in St Albans; in fact I understand it is the biggest employer of my constituents.”

She added: “I know Premier Foods also do a lot of good work in the community sponsoring projects and I hope they continue to do so.”

According to its announcement, the firm is focussing investment on growing its eight “power brands” of Hovis, Ambrosia, Mr Kipling, Sharwood’s, Loyd Grossman, Bisto, Oxo and Batchelors.

While the producer is to shed jobs, it intends to double its marketing spend on those eight brands this year, including television advertising and promotions.

Michael Clarke, recently appointed chief executive officer, said the plan was to stabilise the business and invest in its recovery and future growth.

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

The redundancy announcment follows reduction of the firm’s portfolio, achieved through the divestiture of non-core businesses, completing the sale of its Brookes Avana chilled food business and its recent announcement on an agreement to sell its four Irish grocery brands. Further businesses are also expected to be divested this year.