AS many as '600 jobs' are at risk at a chicken factory in Witham after a food producer announced plans to close the site.

The 2 Sisters Food Group processing plant on the Freebournes Industrial Estate is set to be axed as part of a review the company is carrying out of its 'loss-making' sites.

The Unite union says 600 people work at the factory - which is believed to have been there for nearly 60 years - but company bosses say they are looking into moving workers to other sites.

2 Sisters Food Group chief executive Ronald Kers said: "We are all acutely aware that some of our plans, such as reducing our UK poultry footprint, brings uncertainty for colleagues, and it is with great regret that we have to make such proposals.

"But the alternative of doing nothing and hoping for an upturn is not an option."

Unite has described the plans as "grim" and says it is seeking an urgent meeting with managers at the company.

Regional officer Michelle Cook said: “The announcement that the 2 Sisters Food Group plans to shut its poultry processing plant at Witham, Essex is grim news for the 600-strong workforce and, more generally, for the Essex economy.

“Unite is seeking an urgent meeting with the management to clarify the implications of what is proposed.

“Our first priority will be our members at this very worrying time for them and their families.

"We will be seeking to avoid compulsory redundancies and explore opportunities for redeployment to other 2 Sisters’ sites across the region during the consultation period.”

READ MORE: 'Bosses should try to find a way to keep site open'

The company says its proposing shutting the site to make its supply chains more efficient and to help it be more competitive.

Mr Kers said: "Our stated strategy is to become the number one poultry plus business in Europe and for several months now we have been engaged in a strategic review to facilitate our delivery on this, focussed on improving execution, reducing cost and building a better organisational culture.

"But there is now a pressing need to accelerate our turnaround so we can further increase the performance of our business."

Will the factory closure affect you? If so, we want to hear from you. Call the Times on 01376 334336 or email