300 jobs lost: Alan Bartlett & Sons to close Chatteris factory
- Credit: Bartletts
Hundreds of jobs are to go at a Chatteris factory with the closure in June of Alan Bartlett & Sons.
The company grows, harvests, processes and packages a range of vegetables from rural fenland.
Director Toby Bartlett said tonight: “We have made the extremely difficult decision to close our business at the end of the season in June 2021.
“All employees were advised on Monday February 15 and are now going through collective consultation.
“Our focus remains on supporting them over the coming months and doing everything we can to help find alternative employment in the area.”
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In its most recent accounts for the year ending May 31, 2019, it revealed it employed 300 people.
The accounts – to the year ending May 31, 2019 – shows Bartlett turned over £38m, had a gross profit of £12.5m, operating profits of £887,000 and net profit of £420,000.
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“There was significant increase in cash generated from operating activities as a result of the improved trading conditions,” notes the annual report.
But it also reported that “the group operates in a highly competitive market, particularly in respect of price, product availability and quality.
“This results in not only constant pressure on margins but also the risk that the group may fall short of customer expectations.”
Although it has not explained the reasons behind its decision, sources inside the company believe the loss of a contract with a major supermarket may have been an influencing factor.
Alan Bartlett & Son has frequently been listed in the top 100 Cambridgeshire firms – in 2019 Cambridge-based financial and business advisors Grant Thornton produced its annual leadership board. Bartlett was rated at no 52 in the top 100 publicly available accounts of privately owned firms.
Companies House record that last October there was a significant management change at Alan Bartlett & Sons Ltd.
Alan Bartlett was noted as stepping away as a “person with significant control” with twins Oliver Bartlett and Toby Bartlett recorded as those with “significant control”.
Alan Bartlett started working for the family veg business at the age of 17 and came to Chatteris in the 1980s.
Toby and Oliver Bartlett, both now 30, joined the family firm in 2009, working his way through the ranks straight from school.
The company’s website reports how he joined straight from school “and spent time in the factory doing everything from washing and packing to driving forklifts”.
Toby’s twin brother, Ollie, also joined the business in 2009.
“After leaving school, he chose to get hands on at the farm,” says the company website.
“Starting off driving tractors, picking carrots and also practicing for his HGV test, he soon moved on to having a say in how we do things”.
Closure will be a devastating blow to the town and the company says at harvest time it can employ up to 500 people.
“We’re a happy bunch and we love working together to grow great veg,” says the company website. “It’s probably why so many of our permanent employees have stayed with us for years.
“We make sure that we know everyone who works with us. And we really listen to what they have to say.
“It’s all about creating a great working environment, which means fitting in with people’s priorities – we think that people work best when they’re able to do what they’re good at in a way that suits them.
“We’re clear, open and honest.”