AROUND 320 jobs are at risk as poultry giant Avara has proposed closing its site in Newent.

The Newent facility, previously known as Freemans of Newent, was part of the Joint Venture between Cargill and Faccenda in 2018.

It is a primary processing, cut and pack’ operation, predominantly preparing a range of fresh chicken products, primarily for food service customers, and is staffed by around 320 employees.

And over the years it has provided chicken for restaurants such as Nando’s.

Avara Foods announced today (October 17) a proposal to shut its Newent factory in Spring 2024 which would impact on all staff based at the site.

Like all UK food businesses, Avara says it has faced significant inflationary pressure in fuel, commodities, and labour over the past two years.

While some price increases have been achieved, it has not been sufficient to mitigate the full impact of rising costs on our margins, bosses say.

In today’s trading environment, sustainable businesses must provide a competitive offer to consumers and sufficient margin to allow reinvestment in the food supply chain, they added.

“These can only be achieved if inflation can be sufficiently offset and that, in turn, demands excellent productivity and efficiency.

“Avara has taken steps already in this regard, including the recent closure of its Abergavenny facility.

“However, it has recognized the need to take further actions to continue to deliver a fifth of UK-produced chicken every week, through the most efficient operational footprint.

“Regretfully, this process has identified that its existing chicken volumes and full product range could be processed more efficiently, and with lower capital investment, by focusing on fewer, better-invested facilities.

“Critically, this will enable Avara to continue providing all its customers with the high levels of service, investment and innovation for which it is known.

“These factors have resulted in the proposal to close the Newent site.

“This decision has not been taken quickly, but through long-term business planning focused on delivering a sustainable poultry model able to supply a significant percentage of UK poultry supply now and into the future.”

Company bosses say the decision is no reflection on their hard-working colleagues in Newent.

The company will begin a collective consultation process in the coming days with the individuals that are affected by this proposal.

“The nature of this consultation means that no final decisions have been made and there will be no speculation as to how the process will conclude.”

Avara Foods is one of the UK’s largest food businesses, supplying chicken and turkey to the nation’s favourite supermarkets and restaurant chains.

Established in 2018, as a 50/50 joint venture between Cargill and Faccenda, the company operates a fully integrated supply chain across agriculture, processing and distribution, with approximately 6,000 staff delivering high quality products and great service every day.

Avara Foods says it strives to be a company people want to work with and for, with a strong culture of values, ethics and community.