Fire-ravaged factory set to re-open

STAFF at a Suffolk bacon plant forced to close after a devastating fire have welcomed the news they could be back to work in a new factory early next month.

STAFF at a Suffolk bacon plant forced to close after a devastating fire have welcomed the news they could be back to work in a new factory early next month.

Bosses at Direct Table Foods have spent £20million on new premises on the Saxham Industrial estate near Bury St Edmunds.

It is hoped the factory will create 130 new jobs smoking bacon and curing hams. Engineers will be trialling the plant equipment from April 3 with an official handover to staff on April 10.

The development comes after a devastating fire ripped through the company's old plant in Lamdin road, Bury, in November 2004 - an incident which led to 110 staff being laid off .


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The remaining workers at the Danish-owned factory, which produces the Suffolk Crown brand and produce for supermarkets including Tesco and Morrisons, have been forced to make a daily 150-mile round trip to the firm's second site in Hertfordshire while the rebuild took place.

Director Colin Perry said: “We are pretty near completion and the factory is being fitted out as we speak.

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“The staff have been very good. We did make some redundancies last year but we have retained 110 staff .

“It has been difficult for them working nights in a factory 75 miles away. They have hung in there and so we have been able to keep the business.

“I'm sure they will be relieved to hear we are coming to the end of that now. There is the expectation it will be a challenge to get the factory up and running and get the business on an even keel.”

Around 80 shift workers were evacuated from the factory as 130 firefighters manning 25 appliances from across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex successfully prevented the flames from spreading to neighbouring premises.

Fire officers investigating the cause of the blaze said it was likely to have been started by a bacon smoker.

Only one week earlier, the Premier Foods factory on Mildenhall Road - just metres from Direct Table Foods - was seriously damaged by a similar blaze.

More than half the factory was destroyed in the inferno, which took more than 150 firefighters from four counties around 12 hours to extinguish.

Bosses at the pickle factory moved quickly to confirm their commitment to the town as the factory recovered.

As well as major refurbishment work the factory, which produces Branston Pickle, now employs 550 people thanks to a £30 million boost.

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