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Morrisons to stop operations at Bradford distribution centre

Over 450 jobs are at risk after Morrisons announced it will be stopping operations at its Bradford distribution centre.

Cutler Heights, which was the Bradford-based supermarket chain's first-ever produce site, supplies 59 fruit products and 115 million packs of fruit a year.


Today, Morrisons said it will be "consolidating" and now moving all operations to its other fruit packing site in Thrapston, Northamptonshire.


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


Morrisons says it will try to employ those people in other manufacturing, logistics and retail sites in the local area.


Alternatively, 400 new roles will be created across its Thrapston site and Wakefield distribution centre.


Bradford South MP Judith Cummins (Labour) says the news is "terrible" for the city.


She also added that she has been in conversation with Morrisons about the announcement and will work hard to support those workers affected.


Cutler Heights' fruit packing operation would be moved into Thrapston and its produce pick would go to the Wakefield distribution centre


Morrisons says this would enable a range of efficiency savings, together with a reduction of around 650,000 food miles annually.


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


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


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


"Recent investments in the Thrapston site have created more capacity and space which has made consolidation of the two sites possible.


"After very careful review and evaluation, we propose to move ahead with a consolidation at Thrapston in the second half of 2023.


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


"We will do everything we can to employ those colleagues in other Morrisons manufacturing, logistics and retail sites in the local area.


“Over 400 new roles will be created at the Thrapston site and in our Wakefield distribution centre.”


It comes as the firm is to transfer hundreds of contact centre jobs at Morrisons' HQ on Gain Lane, Bradford, to telecom services firm Webhelp.


The controversial move, which comes into effect today (July 4), will impact more than 300 members of staff, but Morrisons has confirmed there will be no redundancies.


Morrisons also said in a letter to employees that as part of the transfer "current pay rate and terms and conditions and length of service will be protected" and Webhelp has said it will "fully comply with its legal obligations for the proposed transfer and conditions of employment".


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


In late March, Morrisons revealed 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 per cent rise in like-for-like sales, excluding fuel and VAT, in the 13 weeks to January 29.


It marked the first quarterly sales growth since the three months to January 2021 and an improvement on the 2 per cent decline seen in the previous three months.


Recent months have seen some significant developments in terms of the structure of Morrisons' business.


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


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


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