WORKERS at Fox’s Biscuit factory in Batley have been told their jobs are secure following the completion of a £27m investment across three sites.
Owner Northern Foods had planned to merge its Fox’s Biscuits plants at Batley and two other sites – and build a new £40m factory – but this has now been ruled out.
The company, which is one of the biggest private sector employers in Kirklees, has since undertaken a “rigorous” evaluation before ploughing £27m into new equipment across the three sites over the past 18 months.
Among the changes are robots to assist in streamlining parts of the production process.
The investment plan – known as Project Golden – has led to cost reductions and productivity improvements.
Northern Foods spokesman Andrew Hanson told the Examiner: “In 2008 Northern Foods announced proposals to close the three sites and look at creating one new site.
“However we have now completed 18 months of investing £27m into the sites.
“We have since been asked by employees whether we will revert to the original plan, but there is now no plan to close any of the three sites.
“We have focused instead on improving efficiency and have invested in new production lines.
“Batley is an old site and new equipment is paramount to our plan.
“We have also introduced robots for some tasks which has resulted in a less labour intensive resources.”
The Batley site on Wellington Street, which is Fox’s headquarters, has seen 200 redundancies since 2008 but the company said many of these were made voluntarily.
Graham Hunter, managing director of Fox’s Biscuits, said: “Much has changed during the 18 month phase of Project Golden. The unprecedented investment made in all three of our sites has been successful and has helped Fox’s to grow and become even stronger in the UK biscuits market.
“With the acquisition of Northern Foods by 2 Sisters Food Group, Fox’s has a new owner who believes in our business and who is excited about future growth prospects. With the integration process with 2 Sisters Food Group already started, with real progress in productivity and cost reduction and with further cost improvements planned, we have confirmed to our employees that none of the three Fox’s manufacturing sites will close as a result of this project. We recognise that this has been a period of uncertainty and we want to thank all our employees for their commitment, hard work and real performance improvement for the Fox’s cause.”
Founded in 1853 in Batley, it has provided jobs for several generations of local families.
Fox’s makes a range of luxury biscuits, supplies retailers with own-label biscuits and includes well-known brands like Rocky, Classic and Echo.