The Danish-based dairy group have plans to cull around 150 jobs across their five UK bases, including 14 Lockerbie positions, following a wide review of its cheese business.
Tomas Pietrangeli, managing director, Arla Foods UK, said: “We recognise that this is not good news for the 14 individuals whose roles may be affected by the proposal to move the Lockerbie packing facilities to Oswestry.
“The proposal would enable us to consolidate our packing lines, whilst retaining ample capacity to meet the needs of our customers and helping to improve returns to our farmer owners through a higher milk price.
“These proposed changes have no impact to the £5.5m being invested in the Lockerbie site this year.”
He added: “We know that this will be a difficult time for our colleagues and our priority right now is to support them to manage this situation as best we can.
“We will now be entering full consultation with all our Lockerbie colleagues who are affected and their trade union or colleague representatives.”
Despite the 14 jobs blow, the Lockerbie factory is in a stronger position than its Welsh sister as 97 jobs at Arla’s creamery in Denbighshire are set to go as the factory prepares to cease cheese production.
But the news has come as a big blow to the area, which is still reeling from revelations that Annan fish factory Pinneys will close, affecting at least 450 jobs, and Langholm’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill are transferring their 190 staff to a ‘more modern’ premises south of the border in Carlisle.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth
fears the area is in the midst of an employment crisis as it haemorrhages jobs.
He said: “When big businesses make decisions like this it is almost impossible to get them to change their mind, but the bigger problem we face is the shortage of alternative employment in the area for those affected.
“That is down to a lack of investment in our local infrastructure, but also in supporting existing businesses to grow and attracting new ones to the region.”
And Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell said: “The proposed loss of these jobs follows a particularly difficult period for the wider area and its economy.
“I will be keeping in touch with Arla Foods to see if anything can be done to further minimise the impact on Lockerbie of their national restructuring proposals.”
Mr Mundell added: “With all the damaging employment news in the area recently I will be renewing my call for urgent investment by both the new South of Scotland Economic Partnership and the Borderlands Initiative.”
And Annandale North councillor Adam Wilson said: “The local community will be disappointed by this decision. Some people may argue it is a small number of posts being axed in a workforce of over 300, but behind every job loss are local families and their livelihoods being lost.”