Closure means 30 jobs to go

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 08:00 02/03/2013

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Thirty jobs have been cut from Longburn after Goodman Fielder confirmed its smallgoods plant in the town will close next week.

The plant has been run by various businesses for about 70 years and most recently was leased by the Australasian company to produce salami.

Director of corporate affairs Martin Cole said Goodman Fielder would no longer operate the plant from Friday.

"There's declining consumer demand, and it's a reasonably small operation there.

"Given those factors it's the unfortunate reality that we have had to make the decision to close."

The products made at the plant would continue to be available, he said. "We are contracting in an external third party to continue supply of our salami products."

Goodman Fielder owns the Kiwi, Huttons, Milano, Sizzlers and Brooks Deli smallgoods brands.

Mr Cole said eight Longburn staff had been offered employment at Goodman Fielder's other Manawatu sites, including the Ernest Adams bakery in Palmerston North, but the other 22 had been made redundant.

Late last year Goodman Fielder's chief executive Chris Delaney said the company would downsize from 53 to 35 factories through closures and divestments.

The factories to close were the "least efficient". No other closures were planned at the moment.

"Part of our strategy is to make Goodman Fielder a more focused business, and that results in fewer factories as part of that strategic plan," he said.

"Some are through closures - and Longburn is an example of that - but other examples are a divestment of our business, so factories are going to new owners."

The sale of New Zealand Champion Milling to Japan's Nisshin Flour Milling in December was an example of that, he said.

Palmerston North mayor Jono Naylor said it was "obviously really sad news".

"My thoughts particularly go to the people who now find themselves without a job."

Losing another manufacturing business was hard to take, with multiple others closing over the past few years, but he said it was not a problem unique to Palmerston North.

"There's a risk we face in fluid times, when companies are consolidating and redeploying pieces of operations to different places."

Mr Naylor said he was working with organisations like Vision Manawatu to attract more employers to the city.

"It's a tough business trying to attract businesses and to grow jobs.

"While we're losing these jobs . . . logistics operations like Countdown are looking to expand and consolidate here."

Last month, Goodman Fielder reported a NZ$63 million net profit for the six months to December 31.

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That was a 137 per cent year-on-year rise, which the company put down to the sale of its Intergro commercial oils business and low restructuring costs.

- Manawatu Standard

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