MEDIA RELEASE:  OSCAR MAYER, CHARD

 

Following Oscar Mayer’s consultation with employees over the future of its Chard operations, the company has today informed staff that the Board has taken the difficult decision to proceed with the phased closure of the Chard sites. Regrettably, this will necessitate the redundancy of the majority of the  staff employed at the sites.

 

During the course of next year, Oscar Mayer will transfer Chard’s manufacturing business to its other UK sites. The company anticipates completing the transfer by the end of September 2021.

 

Francois Legrain, Chief Executive of Oscar Mayer, explained:

 

“We have held extensive discussions with employee representatives throughout the collective consultation process, during which we have explored their proposals to continue production at Chard. Regrettably, however, we have concluded that none will help make the economics of the Chard site work in such a challenging market.  However, we have pledged to further investigate the proposal to consider flexible working for those few colleagues whose jobs are not dependent on being based at Chard.

 

“We do not underestimate the impact of this announcement on our staff and the local community.  There is never a good time to learn your job is ending and we recognise that it seems even worse in the run up to Christmas. Put simply, as soon as the final decision was made, we felt owed it to our hardworking staff to demonstrate full transparency at the earliest opportunity, in order to end the ongoing uncertainty and speculation.  However, we will not cease production for some months yet.

 

“The closure is no reflection whatsoever on the capability of our people, who continue to work tirelessly and with tremendous commitment despite the difficult circumstances, and for this we remain immensely grateful. Rather, it is the unfortunate combination of a Covid-related change in consumer demand and premises with a physical infrastructure that does not readily adapt itself to change in product or demand.

 

“We will do everything we can to support individuals over the coming months, including assisting our colleagues in their search for meaningful alternative employment and prioritising Chard employees for opportunities that may arise elsewhere in the Oscar Mayer group. 

 

“We are working with local employers who, unsurprisingly, have already expressed an interest in hiring some of our workforce and we continue to liaise with Councillors and our local MP in an effort to minimise the disruption this decision will cause.”

 

The statutory consultation process will continue though, will now focus on the mechanisms of how the redundancies will be managed.

 

ENDS

 

For further information please contact:

Bell Yard Communications                      BellYard@bell-yard.com

Melanie Riley                                                 melanie@bell-yard.com                    07775 591244

Sarah Peters                                                  sarah@bell-yard.com                         07977 997927

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Oscar Mayer

Oscar Mayer announced on 22 October 2020 that it was entering into collective consultation with its employees with a view to ending production at its Chard sites.  This consultation process began by inviting employees to select employee representatives and formal engagement with these representatives commenced on 10 November 2020.

 

Oscar Mayer’s Board reviewed five alternative proposals put forward by employee representatives, in an attempt to avoid, reduce, or mitigate the potential redundancies. As a result, the company has agreed one proposal to explore a range of flexible options with individuals whose workload will be unaffected by the closure of Chard but are currently based at Chard.  These options will be assessed through the individual consultation process.  Unfortunately, the other four proposals have been found not to be viable alternatives.

 

Oscar Mayer has been at the forefront of own brand packaged ready meals in the UK since 1985 and is a long-standing partner to many leading UK supermarket chains.

 

The three sites in Chard have been part of the Oscar Mayer Group since its origin and collectively are the smallest of Oscar Mayer’s manufacturing units.

Oscar Mayer continues to employ over 2,000 people at its other sites in the UK, whose jobs are unaffected by this announcement.

 

COMPANY ANNOUNCEMENT – CHARD

Francois Legrain, Chief Executive of Oscar Mayer said:

“Consulting our colleagues on a potential closure has been a desperately difficult decision to come to. We believe we have exhausted every avenue to continue future production at Chard, and currently we are unable to see a way to make the economics of this site work in such a challenging market.”

“Oscar Mayer fully recognises its responsibility to the local community and sincerely regrets the distress and disappointment this move may cause. This closure, should it occur, is no reflection on the talent and capability of our dedicated staff, who have worked exceptionally hard to help us increase efficiency, for which we remain extremely grateful.

“I only hope it’s of some reassurance that every measure will be taken to assist our colleagues in their search for meaningful alternative employment, should the time come.

“Until any decision is finalised, we are determined to continue to provide the highest standard of production to meet our valued customers’ demands.”

ENDS

About Oscar Mayer
Oscar Mayer has been at the forefront of own-brand packaged ready-meals in the UK since 1985 and is a long-standing partner to many leading UK supermarket chains.

The Chard sites have been part of the Oscar Mayer Group since its origin and is the smallest of Oscar Mayer’s manufacturing units.

On 22 October 2020, Oscar Mayer informed its staff, customers and suppliers of its intention to enter into consultation with its employees over the potential closure of its sites in Chard, Somerset, over the next 12 months, with the intended transfer of production to its other UK sites.

Oscar Mayer currently employs 860 staff at its Chard sites, each of whom is sadly now at risk of redundancy. The consultation period will commence on 10th November and will be subject to a minimum of 45 days consultation, after which a final decision on the future of Oscar Mayer in Chard will be made.

In an attempt to save local jobs, Oscar Mayer management has been looking at developing alternative sites in the area – such as at Millfield – but, in the end, this was not deemed feasible for the company’s future needs.

The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the market for ready meals as people have had more time to cook from scratch during lockdown. Oscar Mayer is far from alone in having to meet these challenges.

Oscar Mayer continues to employ over 2,000 people in its alternative sites in the UK whose jobs are unaffected by this announcement.

For further information please contact:

Bell Yard Communications   BellYard@bell-yard.com

Download a PDF of this statement