Cromer Crab staff told site may close with loss of 230 jobs

Staff at the Cromer Crab Company were told this lunchtime that the site may close next year with the loss of up to 230 jobs.

In a statement Cromer Crab owners, Young's Seafood Limited, said it was entering into a 90-day consultation with staff at the shellfish processing site 'to explore proposals and possible options for the facility.' They include moving some operations to Grimsby and Scotland.

Youngs said the announcement followed a detailed review of its shellfish manufacturing operations and cited inflation and aggressive competition among other difficulties at Cromer.

Pete Ward, Youngs' chief operating officer, said: 'For some time it has been clear that we are now facing a new reality in the economic environment that requires a new plan to ensure we continue to be a sustainable, long-term business.

'This new economic reality means the Cromer site has been struggling with inflation, industry over capacity, new capacity coming into shellfish processing, aggressive competition, pressure on margins from promotions and customers and consumers who are looking for ever-better value.

'We have worked hard in Cromer, over a considerable amount of time to try to drive sales, reduce costs and ensure this is a viable site but, unfortunately, the challenges are increasing. The commitment, expertise and dedication of the team in Cromer has always been fantastic and has never been in question. These proposals are about us having to adapt to the new reality in our external environment to ensure that Young's has a long term, successful future.'

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said he was 'very depressed' by the news and was due to meet Mr Ward tomorrow. He has also offered to meet with staff.

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Mr Lamb added: 'My heart goes out to workers and their families. This is going to be a very anxious time and a big blow locally.'

Established in 1980, the highly specialised Cromer facility now processes prawns and a small amount of crab, lobster and other shellfish for UK retailers' own-label, chilled product ranges.

Tam Muldoon, site leader at Cromer said: 'Given the challenges in the economic environment, our committed and skilled team in Cromer and the importance of the site to the local community, we are facing difficult decisions. We will discuss possible options for the site with our Cromer team, their union representatives, others in the local community and our customers before any plans are finalised.'

The review of the shellfish manufacturing operations followed the formation of Young's Seafood Limited in February 2011, which brought together Young's, Findus UK and Ireland and the Seafood Company, including the Cromer Crab Company, as one unified business.

Under the new proposals some of Young's Seafood Limited's shellfish processing would be moved from Cromer to the company's larger scale sites in Scotland and Grimsby.

In total, Young's Seafood Limited employs around 3,200 people across 13 sites in the UK, with the majority of staff based in Grimsby or Scotland. Young's Seafood Limited has invested around �2m in the Cromer site during the past two years.