KP Snacks to Close Factory
Manufacturing capability review
Mark Duffy is the Manufacturing Director of KP Snacks. He says that the proposal was part of an ongoing review into the manufacturing capability of their sites, which has been happening since they acquired Butterkist in 2017.
“Our review has concluded that we are over capacity across our popcorn manufacturing base,” he explained. “The Largo Foods UK site in Barnsley has expanded in recent years as business has grown. However the growth has resulted in us occupying a number of business units, and the space constraints drive increased costs and some technical challenges.”
The smaller size of the Largo Foods factory site means that it would not be possible to move the Butterkist production there, but it would however be possible to move the production from Largo Foods to the existing Butterkist site whilst also retaining more scope for potential future growth. It’s the only move that makes sense for the company, but this is unlikely to be any commiseration for the 90 employees who may soon need to be signing up for our job alerts here.
If the proposals are given the final greenlight that they need, then the Barnsley site will be closed later on this year. This means that all of those currently working there will be at risk of being made redundant.
“If our proposal goes ahead, we anticipate 31 roles being available at Pontefract as likely mitigation for Barnsley colleagues. We will work with impacted employees to place them into suitable roles at Pontefract, or where opportunities become available at other KP sites,” said Duffy. “We recognise the proposal will cause a lot of uncertainty for people and we will support our colleagues during the consultation process, ensuring that we are regularly communicating with them.”
This is a strong example of a company being able to compress the work that is available across a smaller selection of jobs, thus saving money but also having a larger impact on the local economy. This move likely means that at least 60 of the Barnsley employees will be out of work, with some of them potentially not being able to relocate even if offered the Pontefract positions. This means there could also be some jobs available here at the Barnsley site when the move is made.
The time has clearly come for KP Snacks to take stock of their numbers, after making a number of acquisitions over the past couple of years which have more than likely made the coffers run low. They expanded into the premium snacking category with their purchase of Tyrrells Potato Crisps, and then also made a move into healthier snacking by purchasing Popchips – less than a year after having taken on Butterkist, the popcorn brand.
They have also created new jobs elsewhere, however. In October, they were looking to create 20 new positions when they put in a new pellet production facility at their Billingham factory. Based in Teesside, this was an investment of £6 million into their site which produces Pom Bear, McCoy’s, and Hula Hoops Puft crisp lines.
Have they overstretched themselves? It’s possible that this may be the case, though on the other hand they may also simply be taking a step back and consolidating their latest acquisitions after a purchasing frenzy. This kind of review is essential to efficient running.