A sad landmark as last loaf leaves factory line

Workers at a famous Wigan bakery are marking the end of an era as the last loaf has come off the production line at Hovis in New Springs.

The Cale Lane site has been hit with significant cutbacks in recent years following the business changing hands and a downturn in demand.

Bosses have said the site will keep producing Hovis brand crumpets for the foreseeable future with rumours rife it could become a distribution centre.

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One resident living close to the site posted on social media: “I live literally five minutes from here and I’m going to miss that lovely fresh baked smell.”

Last year the Hovis workforce was rocked by the announcement 111 roles had been placed at risk following a round of redundancies the previous year.

And in December, Bakers and Allied Food Workers’ Union (BFAWU) regional secretary Geoff Atkinson spoke of concerns the continued cutbacks could lead to the operation closing down all together.

He said: “The Wigan site has been targeted for a managed decline and a scaling back of jobs and skills, resembling nothing more that the business equivalent of a death of a thousand cuts, which I fear may lead to the eventual total closure of the bakery.”

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But this was knocked back by Hovis bosses who said streamlining of their business was a necessity.

Chief operations officer Simon Devereux said: “We are obviously disappointed in the comments made by the BFAWU.

“We are working as a team to overhaul the Hovis business and future-proof it to ensure the long term sustainability and growth of the company and to protect as many roles as possible.

“The company has been in need of this review for some time and it does mean that we are making really tough decisions to drive and transform Hovis whilst preserving its heritage.”

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Ward councillor John Hilton told the Evening Post it was a sad day for everyone connected with the Hovis site.

He said: “Obviously this factory has been in the community for many, many years and there will be lots of people with connections to it who will be seeing it as a sad day.

“I know a lot of men and women who work there or have worked there in the past and there a lot of job losses coming with more than 100 being made redundant.

“We will do our best to help those who have lost their jobs, I’m here for the long haul, and if anyone would like to come and see me to find out what options are there for council support then please do.”

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Coun Hilton also added his name to the list of residents who will miss the smell of freshly baked bread in the area.

He told the Evening Post: “I used to live right next door many years ago and I can remember it very well. It’s a very sad day.

“There’s never a good time to lose your job but to find out before Christmas and then have to deal with it at this time of year must be terrible, I have every sympathy for them.”

The Hovis workforce also received a pledge of support from Wigan MP Lisa Nandy last year.

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The shadow energy secretary backed staff in their 2013 industrial action over the company’s use of zero-hours contracts.

She said on the jobs cut announcement late last year: ““This is potentially devastating news and will come as a huge blow to workers at Hovis who have already undergone one round of redundancies earlier this year.

“It is a worrying time for the workforce, especially in the run up to Christmas.

“I am in touch with the management and the Bakers Union to ensure we do all we can to protect jobs and support the workforce.”