Campbell's King's Lynn plant to close

A King's Lynn food factory is to close with the loss of 245 jobs, it emerged today.Premier Foods announced the Campbell's Soup factory on Hardwick Road would cease operations in December.

A King's Lynn food factory is to close with the loss of 245 jobs, it emerged today.

Premier Foods announced the Campbell's Soup factory on Hardwick Road would cease operations in December.

It said a factory at Ashford, in Kent, which employs a further 150, will also close by May next year.

While 400 jobs will go in Norfolk and Kent, Premier said plans to expand three other factories at Wisbech, Worksop and Long Sutton meant it was hopeful that many staff affected by the closures would remain with the company.

Premier Foods chief executive Robert Schofield said today: "Closing factories is not a decision we take lightly and we appreciate greatly the commitment of our Ashford and King's Lynn factory employees.

"We are determined to provide support for those affected and remain hopeful that in the event of us proceeding as proposed, many of those employees will remain in the business and transfer to one of the new opportunities being created."

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The closure of the Lynn operation comes six months after Premier took on the site as part of its £460 million acquisition of the UK and Ireland operations of Campbell Soup.

At the time of the deal, Premier pledged to achieve cost savings from the combination with Campbell's of £28 million within three years.

The Campbell business added brands such as Oxo, Batchelors, Homepride and Fray Bentos to a portfolio that already boasted leading names such as Crosse & Blackwell and Bird's custard. Premier extended its estate further last month with the acquisition of Mr Kipling and Bisto gravy firm RHM.

Premier said it would consult with staff representatives before finalising its plans for the two sites in the spring.