Workers broke down in tears after being told almost 90 years of sweet making history at a Blackpool factory is to come to an end.
Staff at Tangerine Confectionery’s Clifton Road site told how they were given the bombshell news that the site was to close.
The workers were called from the shop floor to a special meeting on Thursday to be warned that 166 jobs at the site, which makes a range of sweets, were under threat.
Union officials were called in yesterday to hold an emergency meeting with senior managers at the site which is set to close next March.
One worker who did not want to be named said some staff broke down in tears when they were told and everybody was stunned by the news.
He said: “Some of the ladies were crying – we were all shocked.
“We knew the company was making some changes and we lost a few staff around Christmas, but it is still a shock to be told that’s it, the building’s closing.”
Another worker, Julie Mason, of School Lane, said: “Some people were crying. I knew we had been a bit slack recently but when you get told news like that it is a shock.
“Quite a few people were very upset and did not come into work today. “It is very worrying. I need to have a full time job and there are not a lot out there at the moment.
“Everyone is very down, the reality has hit home hard.
“The managers called us upstairs to break the news.”
“They were very kind and said they would try to support us where possible. There are some agency jobs at (Tangerine’s) Vicarage Lane and hopefully we might get first chance to apply for those.
“I have worked here for 13 years so I will miss the place and the people. I am 55 now and very worried about the prospects of finding full-time work. I had hoped to carry on here until I retired.”
Another woman from the Cherry Tree Road area said: “Everyone is gutted. It’s very worrying. I don’t know were I will get another job. We had been a bit quiet and they had brought bon bon production over here to give us something else to do but I did not expect this.”
Geoff Atkinson the regional secretary of the Bakers Union said talks with the management at Tangerine Confectionery had brought some hope. He said: “On the back of such a disastrous announcement where 166 jobs are at risk we had a productive meeting with the managers.
“They explained about the problems with the Clifton Road site being old and landlocked when it comes to new investment and how kit can be transferred to other sites.
“It’s early days yet but I believe the management are sincere about trying to help the staff and they have already identified possibilities whereby around a third of the staff could be transferred locally.”
He said some staff who had no ties in the area had expressed a willingness to move to the company’s other sites around the UK and the company was receptive to that.
Mr Atkinson added: “It’s still bleak for Clifton Road and the prospects of employment for people in that area, but there is still 12 months work and things can change in a year so there is some hope.
“We are in a process of consultation now and developments will be ongoing and the staff kept informed. I believe the management area committed to trying to find everyone a job.”
Nigel Nelson, operations and supply chain director, said the closure, part of a far reaching review of Tangerine’s UK business, was essential for preserving jobs in the Blackpool area at its other site at Vicarage Lane.
He said: “The decision has been made after a carefully considered review. We will do everything possible during this time to retain the experience of employees within the business by offering roles at our other factories for example, Vicarage Lane where we continue to invest.
“Our primary concern at this stage is the welfare of our employees and we are committed to do all that we can to support them through the consultation period and beyond.”
Clifton ward councillor Adrian Hutton and Joan Greenhalgh both expressed disappointment about the loss of jobs in the area and concern for the staff.
Coun Hutton said: “It’s disappointing because it means another loss of jobs in the area. Any redundancy is to be regretted so hopefully they can find jobs for all that want them at the Vicarage Lane site.
“It will be the end of an era for the Clifton Road sweets site. I feel sorry for the people losing their jobs.”
Coun Greenhalgh said: “It is very sad. It has been a toffee factory for so many years. I hope they can save as many jobs as possible.”
Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This is devastating news for the people employed by Tangerine Confectionery and their families. The company has a long history in Blackpool and I’m sure many people will be saddened by this news.”
The company was founded in 1928 by Stanley Kitt and his brothers Fred and Roy under the Daintees sweets name.
Fred, the last remaining brother of the original sweet empire, died in 2000, aged 84.