Jobs under threat as US owner unveils proposal to close Cambridgeshire sites

Dart Products factory in St Peter's Road, in Huntingdon. Picture: GOOGLE

Dart Products factory in St Peter's Road, in Huntingdon. Picture: GOOGLE - Credit: Archant

More than 170 jobs are at risk after the US-based owner of a Cambridgeshire firm announced proposals to cease operations at its sites in the county, including in Huntingdon.

Dart Products Europe, which has a factory in St Peter's Road, Huntingdon, as well as a distribution centre in Peterborough, has entered into consultation with staff regarding proposals to close its operations at the two centres.

Dart Products is a food and drink packaging manufacturer which has its headquarters in Michigan, USA.

A spokesman for the company told the Hunts Post: "Dart Container has entered into collective consultation with its Dart Products Europe manufacturing, distribution and related sales employees in Huntingdon and Peterborough regarding the company's proposal to cease operations at those locations.

"A final decision has not been made and will not be made until after the consultation period ends."

The spokesman said Dart's Cradley Heath site, in the west Midlands, was not included in the consultation process.

Dart president Jim Lammers said the proposal to close the sites was in response to a "highly competitive European market".

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Mr Lammers added: "With little encouragement that Dart's position will change in the foreseeable future, our company is forced to concede that sustained profitability improvement is not achievable in the medium to long term.

"Therefore, we are proposing to close the company's operations in Huntingdon and Peterborough. We are engaging in a good-faith collective consultation with our employees and value their commitment and contributions, many of whom have been with us for decades."

According to the latest full accounts for Dart Europe, submitted to Companies House in April 2018, the firm posted losses of about £6.7million in 2016, and about £2.8million in 2017.

A member of staff at Dart's Huntingdon centre, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Hunts Post: "[Dart] are basically telling us they don't want to be in Europe. We have been going backwards and forwards for weeks but we are struggling to find out what is going on.

"We just can't understand what has happened. [Dart] have kept quiet."

We know that we are doing well [as a business] and that is what is frustrating. I think it's wrong. [The firm] has spent millions to get where we are so it just doesn't make financial sense."