Cake makers hailed as Brexit success by Theresa May could now be 'decimated' by EU withdrawal

Chris Ormrod, the managing director of the company, says about half of its 400 staff are from abroad

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The Independent Online

A company hailed by Prime Minister Theresa May as a business success story said it could be “decimated” if it was not able to bring in unskilled workers from the continent after the UK leaves the EU.

Earlier this year, Ministry of Cake, a Somerset-based dessert making firm,  was sold to French rival Mademoiselle Dessert.

Asked about the deal during Prime Minister’s Questions in January, Ms May said the investment “shows confidence that people have in the economy for the future”.

 "It shows the fundamental strength of our economy and it also shows that we can unlock global trade,” she added.

However,  in an interview with the Financial Times, Chris Ormrod, the managing director of the company, said that the deal had been first agreed before the EU referendum in June.

He said his business faces being ‘decimated’ by  Ms May’s crackdown on unskilled EU workers

“In business you deal with lemons as they get sent towards you and you make lemonade,” he told the FT.

“Brexit is a huge lemon, the size of a small tank,” he added.

Mr Ormod said that about half of his 400 workforce are from abroad.

“Three years from now I think it could be much worse…It’s a concern for the wider food industry, which has always used an element of foreign workers to fill the vacancies,” Mr Ormod said.

His comments come after Andrea Wareham director of human resources of high-street chain Pret a Manger, earlier this week, told a parliamentary committee that the company may struggle to attract staff once the UK leaves the EU, as just one in 50 of the applicants for jobs at the firm is British.

“If I had to fill all our vacancies in British-only applicants I would not be able to fill them... because of a lack of applications,” Ms Wareham told told the House of Lords economic affairs select committee on Wednesday as they heard evidence about the impact of the Brexit vote on different sectors of the economy.

Brexit Secretary David Davis has previously suggested that the UK could not just “suddenly shut” the door on immigration, because it would take “years and years” to fill jobs in sectors that rely heavily on migrants, such as hospitality and social care.