Farmers issue warning as Castell Howell consults on job cuts

Food wholesaler Castell Howell Foods Ltd says the firm has entered into a period of consultation with workers over potential job losses (Photo: Google)
Food wholesaler Castell Howell Foods Ltd says the firm has entered into a period of consultation with workers over potential job losses (Photo: Google)

Farmers have responded with dismay to the news that one of Wales' biggest food companies is considering job cuts due to the impacts caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

Castell Howell, which employs around 700 staff, is having to consider job cuts because of the drop in hospitality trade caused by the lockdown.

The Carmarthenshire-based food wholesaler said the business had entered into a period of consultation with its employees over potential job cuts.

"Major events have been cancelled and it is likely that our core customers such as schools, pubs, restaurants, hotels, cafes and workplace catering will not open to full capacity for several months,” the company said in a statement.



“As the UK government’s furlough scheme is due to end in October, we regrettably need to start the consultation process with our staff so that further."

The firm's weekly sales were down by 65%, and it appeared 'unlikely' that trade would recover fully until 'well into 2021'.



The company added that it was unable to confirm how many jobs would be lost.

Responding to the news, the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said it was 'heartbreaking' to see potential job losses.

FUW Carmarthenshire chairman, Phil Jones said: “The wider consequences for the rural economy, suppliers and staff could be drastic if no alternative can be found.

“We are hoping that this will be only a small blip in this company's future and that they can return to normality, increase their growth as soon as possible and re-employ not just those that may have lost their jobs but many more."

Mr Jones said the consequences for the food service industry had been 'devastating', and Castell Howell had 'not been exempt'.

"With this in mind we call on the Welsh government to do all they can to assist the sector in recovering from the lockdown downturn as quickly as possible.”

Farmer and entrepreneur Brian Jones, who formed Castell Howell in the 1980s, has previously been recognised for his services to agriculture.