60 jobs at biscuit factory

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News: Sheffield Telegraph online 24-hours a day.

SIXTY jobs are to be created in Sheffield’s manufacturing industry, after Kraft Foods announced it was investing £6 million to make biscuits at its Owlerton factory.

The American food giant - which bought Cadbury for £12 billion last year - has announced it will start producing Oreo and BelVita biscuits - the first time they will have been made in the UK.

Bosses said 60 new jobs would be created in Sheffield - including manufacturing, team leader and technician roles.

But 40 white-collar roles are to go at the factory’s Trebor Bassett and Maynard section - although Kraft said none of the job losses would be made through compulsory redundancies.

They said they would work with staff to carry out a programme of voluntary redundancies and redeployment over two years from next March.

Kraft chiefs said they will try to move a further 17 warehouse staff at the Beulah Road site into manufacturing positions.

When Kraft bought Cadbury last March they pledged the factory’s 700 workers did not need to fear for their jobs, promising there would be no plant closures and no compulsory redundancies for two years.

The firm said yesterday its commitment remained ‘fully in force’ and was not changed by the announcement.

Ian Dearn, Kraft’s head of manufacturing in Sheffield, said: “It is great that Kraft Foods recognises the strength of the UK as a manufacturing centre.

“We are proud to have been selected to bring the manufacture of BelVita and world-famous Oreo cookies to the UK for the first time.

“We are also excited about the opportunity to create new partnerships with local farmers to supply the wheat for these iconic products.”

Residents and politicians welcomed the news.

Wendy Wells, project officer at Hillsborough Forum, said: “I’m very glad Bassetts is staying here at all. It is part and parcel of Hillsborough.

“There were worries they would be pulling out of the area completely.

“So on the face of it, this sounds like great news. This means 20 new jobs that we desperately need here.”

Hillsborough and Brightside MP David Blunkett added: “I’m naturally very pleased that £6m will be invested in the Bassets site, and will therefore generate both new jobs and wider economic benefits.

“It will also provide a new production line and therefore greater security for the site in the foreseeable future.

“Such good news is desperately needed given the growing levels of unemployment and insecurity this brings for so many families.”

Kraft also announced it was cutting 200 jobs at sites at Bournville in Birmingham, Chirk in north Wales and Marlbrook in Herefordshire.

A Kraft spokesman said: “The £6m biscuits investment at Sheffield will make it possible to bake Oreo and BelVita biscuits in the UK for the first time, alongside Trebor, Maynards and Bassetts candy.

“This new investment in biscuits, coupled with ongoing investment in candy, will increase output and productivity at Kraft’s Sheffield plant and result in a net increase of approximately 20 manufacturing jobs.”

The firm said it had invested £22m in the Sheffield plant since taking over in March 2010.