More than 450 jobs are at risk as Morrisons ceases operations at its Bradford distribution center

Cutler Heights, which was the Bradford-based supermarket chain’s first production location, supplies 59 fruit products and 115 million fruit cases annually.

Today, Morrisons said it would be “consolidating” and now moving all operations to another fruit packing house in Thrapston, Northamptonshire.

The move will take place in the second half of this year and will put the jobs of the 456 employees at the Cutler Heights location at risk of redundancy.

Morrisons said it would try to employ those people at other manufacturing, logistics and retail locations in the local area.

Alternatively, 400 new roles will be created at the Thrapston site and the Wakefield distribution center.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: 456 jobs now at risk456 jobs are now at risk (Image: Newsquest)

Bradford South Member of Parliament Judith Cummins (Labor) said the news was “terrible” for the city.

He also added that he had spoken to Morrisons about the announcement and would work hard to support the affected workers.

Cutler Heights’ fruit packing operations will be moved to Thrapston and the produce will be sent to the Wakefield distribution centre

Morrisons says this will allow for a variety of efficiency savings, along with a reduction of about 650,000 miles of food each year.

The packing facility at Cutler Heights operates around the clock to provide customers with grapes, tomatoes, peaches, plums, salads and citrus fruits.

Morrisons plans to retain the site and repurpose it into a pet food manufacturing operation – but says this will take time.

A spokesperson for Morrisons said: “Morrisons currently operates two fruit packing locations in Thrapston, Northamptonshire and Cutler Heights in Yorkshire.

“The recent investment in the Thrapston site has created more capacity and space allowing consolidation of the two sites.

“After very careful review and evaluation, we propose to proceed with consolidation at Thrapston in the second half of 2023.

“Unfortunately, the proposal to consolidate the two sites means there are 456 colleagues in Cutler Heights who are at risk of redundancy.

“We will do everything we can to employ these associates at other Morrisons manufacturing, logistics and retail locations in the local area.

“More than 400 new roles will be created at our Thrapston location and at our Wakefield distribution center.”

That comes as the company will transfer hundreds of contact center jobs at Morrisons’ headquarters in Gain Lane, Bradford, to telecommunications services firm Webhelp.

The controversial measure, which takes effect tomorrow (July 4), will affect more than 300 staff members, but Morrisons has confirmed there will be no redundancies.

Morrisons also said in a letter to employees that as part of the transfer “current salary levels and terms and conditions and length of service will be protected” and Webhelp said it would “fully comply with its legal obligations for the proposed transfer and terms of employment”.

The supermarket giant was bought by private equity giant Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) in 2021.

In late March, Morrisons announced a return to quarterly sales growth for the first time in two years after investing in price promotions to help cash-strapped shoppers.

The group reported a 0.1 percent increase in like-for-like sales, excluding fuel and VAT, in the 13 weeks to January 29.

This marked the first quarterly sales growth in the three months to January 2021 and an improvement from the 2 percent decline seen in the previous three months.

The last few months have seen some significant developments in terms of Morrisons’ business structure.

In December last year, the company completed a £220 million sale and leaseback agreement in a transaction involving seven logistics properties in the UK.

In March this year, it was revealed that Morrisons was reportedly planning to step back from its relationship with at least 83 property maintenance suppliers in favor of moving to a single provider for repairs.

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