MORE than 280 North East jobs and a further 99 in Cumbria will be lost with the closure of two seafood factories.
Young’s Seafood confirmed yesterday it is closing the former Cumbrian Seafoods plant on Seaham’s Foxcover Industrial Estate, which it took over after the company collapsed before Christmas, plus a plant in Whitehaven.
The firm has been in consultation with workers over the future of the facilities since January and has now decided to shut down the operation.
The future of a plant in Amble, Northumberland, is still unsure.
Pete Ward, chief operating officer of Young’s, said: “Following formal consultations at the former Cumbrian Seafoods sites in Seaham and Whitehaven, we are announcing that volume from these sites will be transferred into Young’s Seafood Limited’s existing facilities.
“Unfortunately the phased transfer of volume is likely to result in the closure of the Seaham and Whitehaven sites with the loss of up to 281 jobs in Seaham and 99 jobs in Whitehaven in the next month.”
Young’s was the biggest employer in Seaham, where the business was headquartered in a hi-tech factory, employing almost 300 people. The firm bought Cumbrian’s customer contracts and equipment out of administration on December 5.
Mr Ward said the decision to close the factories was not a reflection on the “committed and skilled teams” at the former Cumbrian Seafood sites.
“This has been identified as the most sustainable option for the long-term,” he said. “Factors considered as part of the consultation process, included cost, financial sustainability, quality and technical standards, and manufacturing capabilities of the sites.
“We’d like to stress that this is not a decision that has been taken lightly and does not, in any way, reflect on the committed and experienced teams at these sites. They have continued to work hard during this period and are a credit to the whole workforce.
“Our priority is to continue to fulfil customer contracts, alongside ensuring that the employees affected by this announcement get the support they need by working closely with them, local agencies and other key stakeholders.”
Easington MP Grahame Morris yesterday said he was “deeply concerned” at the job losses.
He said: “I’m extremely disappointed that such a modern factory, with an excellent workforce that has delivered everything that has been asked of them, has been closed.
“That factory cost £25m to build when it was in its previous ownership and was one of the most state-of-the-art in the country. Only a little while ago there were 500 people working there but it has gradually been run down.
“This latest announcement is deeply concerning because in my part of the world jobs are being axed thick and fast. It’s very, very serious the number of jobs we are losing in East Durham.
“We need a courageous Government prepared to intervene positively and introduce some infrastructure programmes, particularly for 18 to 24-year-olds.”
Young’s is in consultation with workers over facilities at the former Cumbrian Seafoods site at Border Laird, in Amble, which processes langoustines and makes fishcakes. The company said it was exploring a number of options for the Amble site, including its sale.