Sandwich firm Greencore has announced it has made a £35 million in its half year results but has come under fire from the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) for placing staff on furlough during the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the company saying revenue had grown to more than £700m, it added that demand for food-to-go products had declined by up to 70% as a result of the virus.
Commenting on the results, Patrick Coveney, chief executive officer for Greencore, said: “I am hugely proud of the way in which our people have responded to the extraordinary challenges of Covid-19, and take this opportunity to publicly thank them for their role in keeping the UK fed over the last two months. We have implemented a broad range of actions to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on our business and to position us for growth as the pandemic eases. More than ever before, our deep customer relationships, leadership positions in key food categories, well invested network, flexible model, and outstanding people are key strengths that ensure we trade our way resiliently through this uncertain period.”
“We are hugely proud of the way in which our colleagues have responded to the challenge of helping to keep the UK fed during this difficult period and are absolutely committed to looking after their wellbeing and keeping them safe. We also have a range of benefits and incentives in place for our colleagues across all of our sites.”
Greencore has also responded to criticism from the the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) over its failure to pay furloughed workers 100% of their wages by contributing the extra 20%. In a statement, it said: “As we said in our interim financial results on Tuesday 19th May, weekly demand for our food to go products has declined by up to 70% since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.
“While we are confident that this will be a temporary decrease and that we will return to normal levels of production in due course, the decline has meant that we have had to carry out a range of initiatives in order to navigate our way through the disruption and ensure that we can preserve jobs at Greencore in the long-term.
“In common with thousands of companies across the UK, the decision to furlough employees was one of those initiatives. We are hugely proud of the way in which our colleagues have responded to the challenge of helping to keep the UK fed during this difficult period and are absolutely committed to looking after their wellbeing and keeping them safe. We also have a range of benefits and incentives in place for our colleagues across all of our sites.”
The BFAWU criticised Greencore for placing workers on furlough despite the company recording “huge profits”, with regional officer George Attwall adding: “Members are feeling the pinch in their pockets, they are living below the poverty line.”
Robert Hanley, Northampton branch president of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union also told BBC Radio Northampton: “We’re trying to fight this because we’re not happy with the situation here. Is there any reason why with £35.6 million profit they can’t give us 20% when they’re still getting money back from the Government?”
The company has furloughed around 4,000 workers across the UK, including the majority of the 1,800 members of staff at its site in Northampton.