Tip Top confirms closure of Newcastle bakery, 79 jobs to go

FLASHBACK: Workers at work at Tip Top Bakery Gateshead in August 2009 after the factory was closed due to redevelopment. Picture: JONATHAN CARROLL Tip Top has confirmed it will close its Newcastle-based bakery in coming months, blaming poor bread sales and a changing market.
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The Gateshead business is expected to wrap up baking in July and the site will be repurposed as a depot.

The decision will see 79 workers laid off and marks the end of a long history of baking in the Newcastleregion.

Hunter Business ChamberCEO Bob Hawes said the decision wasdisheartening.

“Tip Top is an iconic brand in this region and while we understand the depot will remain, it will be sad to see production move out of the Hunter with an impact on regional jobs and employment,” he said.

“We’re pleased Tip Top will maintain a distribution operation from the site and are hopeful this will keep any flow on impacts in realms such as product supply from other businesses to a minimum.”

Tip Top,owned byGeorge Weston Foods, will send alllocal production to bakeries in Bendigo and Chullora.

“Market conditions in remainchallenging andTip Tophas made the difficult decision, after careful review, to reshape its bakery network inNewcastle,” a statement from the company said.

“With its core bread business in decline, Tip Top is regrettably stopping production at itsNewcastle facility in early July.”

Newcastle based drivers, merchandisers and sales team memberswill not be impacted by the site changes.

The business is reportedly in talks with bakery staff aboutredundancy packages and re-deployment opportunities, withcareer transition supportoffered to all employees.

United Voice, theunion representing the bakery workers, has labelled the move as a blow to local people.

“This morning Tip Top has regrettably taken a decision to close the operation of the Gateshead manufacturing plant,” a union spokesman said.

“Understandably this decision has come as a blow to everyone who has worked so hard at Gateshead – many for a number of years.

2003: Union organiser Steven wright outside of the plant in November 2003 when Tip Top bakery at Gateshead announced that they would be downsizing. Picture: PETER STOOP

“United Voice is supporting it’s members through this difficult time.

The union confirmed it is in talks with Tip Topto ensure workers receive‘the best possible support and assistance during this difficult period’.

The union will be going after redundancy, company-providedcounseling, opportunities for retraining some staff and redeployment should they wish to take alternative rolesup.

Tip Top reaffirmed that the closure was not a sign of things to come and said it‘remains stronglycommitted to the n market’.

“While any business decision that impacts its people is always a very difficult one, thischange ensures Tip Top is operating in the most efficient way to compete as a dailyfresh business in a dynamic and changing market,”the business statement said.

In 2003 it was announced thatatleast 100 workers would lose their jobs at the Gateshead factory. George Weston Foods moved jobs from the local factory to the company’s $135 million bakery in Sydney.

At the time the regional secretary of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, Carmel Cook, said the move would all but finish off the once-strong baking industry in Newcastle.

According to Tip Tops website, the company bakesin excess of one million products perday for distribution to supermarkets, food service, fast food outlets and stores throughout the country.

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