UP to 150 jobs look set be axed at a food manufacturer in Poole after Kerry Foods announced a review of its operations in the town.

The firm, which employs 860 full-time workers in Poole, has confirmed up to 150 employees at the branch could face redundancy amid a proposed restructure.

A spokesman from Kerry Foods, which produces savoury pies and pastries, said it had embarked on a 45-day consultation period reviewing its operations at Poole’s Sterte Avenue West.

“Out of our total workforce of 860 full-time employees, 150 may be challenged over this review,” it said.

Staff have been told, due to increased costs and a drop in orders, a company restructure was necessary in order to secure the future of the business.

The spokesman continued: “The sector has been extremely competitive and market volumes have fallen over the past year or so.

“While we have engaged with our workforce in Poole with regard to improving efficiency, and a lot of work has been carried out on site, it is regrettable the sector remains extremely com-petitive and the cost of raw materials has increased.”

A former employee, who asked not to be named, said workers had been left shocked by the announcement.

He said: “They’re not very pleased about it especially those who have been there for a number of years. Some of them are in their mid to late-50s and are worried they won’t be able to find other jobs. They have all turned around and said to them why don’t they cut back on agency staff and keep the permanent workers?”

The Kerry Foods spokesman insisted agency staff were not being used to replace permanent employees. He said: “No full-time jobs will be lost due to the use of agency workers. Agency workers are used to support production only as necessary.”

The leader of Borough of Poole, Cllr Elaine Atkinson said the news was very disappointing for the town.

Cllr Atkinson said: “We are disappointed to hear that Kerry Foods, in Poole, are likely to make a number of their staff redun-dant.

“We understand this to be due to falling demand for their products.”

She added: “We, along with other government agencies such as JobCentre Plus, are already working with Kerry Foods to help all of those that may be affected.”

Chris Wilson, ward councillor for Poole town, added: “It’s very disappointing for the people that work there. It must have come as a bit of a body blow for the workers. Anything that loses jobs in Poole is not good news.”

Simon Harrison, interim president of Poole Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: “We are, as a Chamber, disappointed when any Poole business has to announce any job losses, and we will of course help where we can to minimise those losses.

“We are sure that any restructuring at Kerry Foods will be done quickly and that the business will then be in a position to return to contributing pos-itively to the business economy in Poole.”

He added: “Many of our members and businesses we talk to in Poole are more positive about the future than for a long time and we are hopeful that 2014 will be a successful year for many.”