More than 100 jobs are likely to be lost with the closure of a crisp factory in County Durham.
Union leaders have hit out at proposals by KP Snacks to close its factory in Consett, as well as a plant in Corby in Northamptonshire, as part of a strategy to consolidate its operations.
The plans put a total of 186 jobs at risk across the two sites, yet could bring good news elsewhere to the region as the company intends to expand its operation in Billingham, Teesside, and Stanley, County Durham.
The manufacturer makes a number of popular brands, including Hula Hoops, Skips and Phileas Fogg, as well as the original KP brand.
The company employs around 685 people at its site in Billingham, producing McCoy’s at the factory along with other snack brands including Roysters, Brannigan’s, Frisps, Wheat Crunchies and Discos.
A 45-day consultation is now under way, after which a final decision will be made.
The company has entered into dialogue with the GMB Trade Union, which said it us committed to exploring every avenue possible to keep members employed. Any closure is likely to be in the first quarter of 2015.
GMB regional organiser Suzanne Reid said: “This has come as a big shock to our members, the site has been open for over 30 years with some members spending their whole working career here.
“The potential closure is devastating for members, their families and the community. GMB are committed to supporting our members during this difficult time.”
The factory was the original home to Phileas Fogg crisps and the famous television advert with the slogan “flavours from around the world famously made on Medomsley Road, Consett”.
It is not yet known how many jobs could be saved or created by expanding operations at Billingham and Stanley.
The firm’s chief executive, Nick Bunker, said: “KP Snacks can confirm that we have informed our colleagues at our Consett and Corby factories that, regrettably, in order to develop a sustainable and competitive manufacturing operation, we are proposing to close the sites and to transfer the production to other sites in our network.
“We operate in an increasingly competitive market and need to focus on our cost base in order to develop a sustainable business.”