End of era as mill shuts down
9:02am Thursday 31st October 2013 in News
ONE of Barry’s oldest factories closed its doors today – ending 109 years of production in the town – despite attempts to save it.
The Rank Hovis Mill, at Barry Docks, halted production on October 25 and its 43 employees will now vacate the site.
Hovis bread and Mr Kipling cakes firm Premier Foods announced closure plans in July this year, ending its long history in South Wales.
The company said 24 employees had so far found alternative employment supported by its human resources team and Careers Wales, but both it, Vale MP Alun Cairns and Vale AM Jane Hutt described the shutdown as a “sad” time.
Both politicians held talks with bosses, but proved unsuccessful in securing the factory’s future.
Vale MP Alun Cairns said: “There was one potential purchaser that I worked with and I introduced them to the Welsh Government. The issue was that Rank Hovis were determined to asset strip the site and the incentive for the purchaser was lost.
“I told Rank Hovis that it was unacceptable to asset strip the plant at the cost of local jobs and economy.
“I also called on the Welsh Government to help build up a supply chain to support the potential purchaser.
“Unfortunately, it appears that the asset stripping was a killer blow.
“This is so sad. The commitment from the workforce was exemplary. They were owed so much more.”
Vale AM Jane Hutt said: “When Rank Hovis announced the closure of their Barry mill, I met with management and trade union officers and spoke to workforce representatives to discuss all possible avenues of support for the skilled staff who have served the company so diligently.
“I also raised this with my colleague Edwina Hart AM, the minister for economy, who pledged her support for the workforce.
“The Rank Hovis Mill has had a long history in Barry and its closure is a very sad occasion.”
A company spokeswoman said: “We have supported several individuals with re-training programmes and will continue to support those in search of employment over the coming months.
“Given that the Mill first commenced production in 1904, it has been a very sad time for all and the management team thank the remaining employees for their contribution and commitment over many years of loyal service.”
The Atlantic Mills site on the docks site was built in 1904 by the then Hovis-Bread Flour Company - Britain's largest flour miller, which has since been renamed Rank Hovis.
Premier has phased closure over the past months, impacting the mill's workforce and a number of local contractors.
The loss came as part of a shake-up of its Rank Hovis network, which has a history dating back some 138 years.
Premier will split the milling business in two, with mills in Southampton, Manchester and Newbridge to be focused on producing flour for supermarkets and other food manufacturers, trading under the Rank Hovis brand, while the remaining mills in Wellingborough, Selby, Andover and Gainsborough will supply flour for the company's baking and grocery business.
St Albans-based Premier said in July it needed to make "tough decisions’’ to secure the future of the milling business and help turn trading around at its struggling bread division.
Rank Hovis traces its roots back to 1875, when Joseph Rank saw the potential of grinding wheat with steel rollers in preference to millstones.
It was bought by Premier Foods in 2007.
Associated British Ports (ABP), who leased the site, will decide what will happen to the premises and surrounding area.