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£20m pledge is a year too late for Blackpool

The Waburtons factory on Brinwell Road, Marton, which closed last year, with the loss of 70 jobs.

The Waburtons factory on Brinwell Road, Marton, which closed last year, with the loss of 70 jobs.

Breadmaker Warburtons has revealed it is to invest £20m in one of its bakeries in the North West – a year to the day after announcing the closure of its Blackpool factory.

The plant on Brinwell Road, Marton, was shut last January, spelling the end of 36-years in the resort and leading to the loss of more than 70 jobs.

But the firm has now announced plans to build a new plant next to its existing Burnley factory to produce its range of Sandwich Alternatives including wraps and ‘thins’ products.

The move, company bosses say, could create up to 60 jobs in the long term.

Geoff Atkinson, regional secretary of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) today said the union was surprised to hear about the investment.

He added: “We suggested that Warburtons make these products at Blackpool when we were consulting on the closure of Blackpool, but we were told the equipment would not fit into the factory.

“We suggested all sorts of products for Blackpool to try and keep it open, but it was not possible to save the factory.”

Mr Atkinson claims this time last year Warburtons had no intention of investing in any plant.

He added: “It’s a surprise and a shock, but it is a sign that Warburtons is prepared to invest in other products to try and secure the future of its people and the industry.”

Warburtons confirmed to The Gazette the equipment would not have been able to fit at the Blackpool factory, and there was no room around the site for expansion.

The company has submitted a planning application for the new plant on Billington Road, Burnley.

‘Consumer needs and tastes are changing’

Warburtons says the Burnley site, which employes 250 people, was chosen for the investment due to its supply chain links and suitability for build.

Managing director Neil Campbell said: “As a family business we are able to take decisions for the long term and this planned investment demonstrates our continued commitment to the future growth of the business. We recognise that consumer needs and tastes are changing and we must ensure we are fit to meet their needs, now and into the future.”

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