Up to 430 people are set to lose their jobs as a Gateshead factory that supplies food to Marks & Spencer closes.

Orchard House Foods plans to move production from its Team Valley factory to its base in Corby, Northamptonshire. She now consults the staff, 430 of whom are at risk of being made redundant, despite a banner hung on the Team Valley site indicating “we are recruiting” which was still visible Thursday morning.

Orchard House, which supplies brands like Marks & Spencer, Morrisons and Pret A Manger, said it was offering support for any staff wishing to move from Gateshead to the South Midlands. Assistance will also be offered to staff seeking employment elsewhere in the North East.

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Orchard House, which makes prepared and packaged fruit, fruit drinks, fruit jellies, fresh fruit yogurts, compotes and granolas, said the move was part of plans to consolidate production at Corby d by the end of November this year. The Gateshead site “continues to suffer losses which render it commercially unviable” despite the investments, the company claims.

Managing Director Steve Corby said: “We understand this is an incredibly difficult situation for our employees, and our priority now is to make sure we are doing everything we can to support them.

“Despite significant investment in our Gateshead plant over a considerable period of time in an effort to turn around its financial performance, it unfortunately still incurs losses which make it unsustainable in the long term.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly and which follows an incredibly difficult period for the sector.

“Like many other businesses across the UK, we have suffered from a range of economic and business challenges. They include rising energy, raw material, transport and labor costs. There has also been a shortage of staff available to work at our Gateshead site.”

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