Yesterday, we announced a proposal to shut our Newent factory in Spring 2024, which would impact on all colleagues based at the site.
Like all UK food businesses, we have faced significant inflationary pressure in fuel, commodities, and labour over the past two years. While some price increases have been achieved, they have not been sufficient to mitigate the full impact of rising costs on our margins. In today’s trading environment, sustainable businesses must provide a competitive offer to consumers and sufficient margin to allow reinvestment in the food supply chain. These can only be achieved if inflation can be sufficiently offset and that, in turn, demands excellent productivity and efficiency.
We have taken steps already in this regard, including the recent closure of our Abergavenny facility. However, we have recognised the need to take further action, to continue to deliver a fifth of UK produced chicken every week, through the most efficient operational footprint.
Regretfully, this process has identified that its existing chicken volumes and full product range could be processed more efficiently, and with lower capital investment, by focusing on fewer, better invested facilities. Critically, this will enable us to continue providing all our customers with the high levels of service, investment and innovation for which we are known. These factors have resulted in the proposal to close the Newent site.
This decision has not been taken quickly, but through long-term business planning focused on delivering a sustainable poultry model able to supply a significant percentage of UK poultry supply now and into the future. It is clearly no reflection on the hard-working colleagues at the Newent facility.
In the coming days Avara will begin a collective consultation process with the individuals that are affected by this proposal. The nature of this consultation means that no final decisions have been made and there will be no speculation as to how the process will conclude.