A leading food company plans to axe more than 400 jobs and close a factory under a "transformation programme".
Burton's Foods said its site at Moreton, Wirral, which makes Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels, is to close with the loss of 342 jobs, while 70 redundancies are proposed at a factory in Llantarnam, near Newport in South Wales.
The company said it was responding to an "increasingly challenging and competitive environment", adding that it was investing £7 million in Llantarnam and another site in Edinburgh.
The Unite union reacted with anger to the news, saying workers were "devastated" and added that the planned redundancies "give the lie" to the Government's claims that the private sector will create the jobs which will lead the UK to economic recovery.
Burton's said the announcement formed part of a new £25 million three year capital spending programme to build production capabilities, allowing the company to retain the manufacture of the vast majority of its products in the UK.
Ben Clarke, chief executive of Burton's Foods, said on Wednesday: "Today's announcements recognise the need to transform our supply chain. The proposed job losses are deeply regrettable but, along with the new £25 million investment we are making in our UK manufacturing capability, will help deliver sustainable profitable growth for the company in a highly competitive and challenging market."
The firm said it will now embark on a period of consultation with its employees and their representatives over the job cuts. Burton's also said it was introducing a flexible working approach at its manufacturing sites.
But Unite national officer Jennie Formby said: "The devastated workers believe the plant does have a future though, and have vowed to fight to save the factory and secure their jobs. Burton's has been part of the Wirral for generations, providing stable employment for families across the community. So we will fight with all our power to save this plant because closure is not an option. It will devastate this community.
"Our task now is to consult with our members on next steps, and to give them every reassurance of their union's support. This plant was saved from the axe in 2008 through the efforts of the workers, their friends in the community and their union. There is a mountain to climb but we will be putting everything in to saving it again."
Burton's Foods is a leading branded and own-label supplier of biscuits and snacks and is the second largest biscuit supplier in the UK. It owns and bakes brands such as Maryland Cookies, Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels, and bakes Cadbury's chocolate biscuits under licence.