A chicken factory has ended production ahead of its permanent closure.
Poultry giant 2 Sisters Food Group is closing the site in Witham, Essex, with the loss of 400 jobs.
The company, which employed 528 at the site on Freebournes Road, said 102 jobs had been redeployed to sites in Norfolk and Suffolk.
The closure has been described as “sad” by the district council and local MP Priti Patel said it had caused anxiety for staff and their families.
The company said a skeleton team of 12 would stay on to decommission the factory until October.
“The closure of the site has caused a great deal of anxiety to those affected and my thoughts are with 2 Sisters’ employees and their families,” said Ms Patel, Witham’s Conservative MP, who said she had expressed her concerns about the job losses to the firm.
2 Sisters, which supplies chickens to most of the UK’s major supermarkets and also owns Fox’s Biscuits and Holland’s Pies, said: “We would like to reiterate that the tough decision to cease operations at Witham is no reflection on the colleagues at site who have been dedicated, loyal and hardworking, and we would like thank all for their professionalism during a very unsettling time.”
Tom Cunningham, Braintree District Council cabinet member for economic development, said the authority had tried to support staff at the factory but had received no response from 2 Sisters to approaches regarding the closure.
“It’s always sad to see any business closing and our thoughts are with the staff,” he said.
In September 2017, the Food Standards Agency investigated the company after alleged safety breaches at one its factories in West Bromwich, leading to operations being temporarily suspended.
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