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Union fears over wider impact of Hovis mill closure

A proposal to close the Hovis flour mill in Southampton has put logistics jobs in Hampshire and Yorkshire under threat.

Union chiefs have called for an urgent meeting with Hovis, which announced yesterday that it would be selling two of its flour mills to Whitworth Bros and revealed plans to close its Southampton mill. The company’s remaining mill, in Wellingborough, Northants, would continue to supply flour for the Hovis brand, it added.

The closure of the Southampton site, described by Hovis as “significantly loss-making”, will result in the loss of up to 71 jobs at the mill along with 29 jobs in High Wycombe in central milling functions.

As a result, warehouse and logistics operations in DHL Bawtry, in Yorkshire; DHL Southampton; and DSV Belfast will cease at the end of the year.

“This is a serious blow to the workers and their families and, more generally, for the Southampton economy,” said Unite acting south east regional secretary Ian Woodland. “The mill has been operating for more than 80 years, so there is a lot of history here.

“We are asking for an urgent meeting with the Hovis management to explore the business rationale for the proposed closure and to make the case strongly for a rethink on this decision.”

Woodland claimed the Southampton site had lacked investment and refurbishment compared with the other Hovis sites across the UK.

Unite said it was also concerned about the impact on workers at the warehouse and logistics operations.

“We are digesting what this serious news will mean for our members at these three sites in Belfast, Southampton and Yorkshire, which are separate logistics companies working for Hovis,” stated Matt Drape, Unite national officer for logistics and road transport.

DHL said its staff affected by the issue - 17 at the Bawtry site and 40 at the Southampton - had been informed of the situation and would enter into consultation with the company and union representatives to discuss their options, including redeploying to other DHL operations in the area.

“Both DHL and Hovis stress that the proposed changes are based on commercial reasons and in no way reflect on the performance of the Southampton and Bawtry operations,” said the logistics operator.


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