Hillsdown casualty in baked bean war

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The Independent Online
A FLURRY of baked bean imports caused by the retail price war has forced Hillsdown Holdings to close its manufacturing site at Wisbech in Cambridge, writes Heather Connon.

The group hopes to redeploy some of the 340 staff employed there at its plant nine miles away in Long Sutton, although some production will also be relocated to Forfar in Tayside.

The number of job losses will depend on how many staff agree to transfer but a spokesman for the group said about 150 jobs would be created in manufacture at Long Sutton, which meant that redundancies could be around 190.

The closure will be phased over the next 18 months but will not cut baked bean production by much. Instead, the spokesman said, the aim is to reorganise production to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Baked beans have been one of the main products in the supermarket price war. Hillsdown said some groups were offering tins of baked beans at 14p, at least 10p below a year ago. 'It is not possible for us to generate reasonable profit at prices in that range,' the spokesman said.

The costs of closure have not yet been finalised but are likely to be between pounds 3m and pounds 4m. They will be charged against profits as the programme is implemented.