A poultry plant in Witham will close at the end of the day, sounding the death knell for hundreds of local jobs after 60 years of operations.

Around 400 jobs will be axed when production ceases at the 2 Sisters plant on the Freebournes industrial estate.

A spokesman said: “There will then be a gradual process of decommissioning until the beginning of October, using a skeleton team of around 12 people.

“Out of just over 500 employees, 102 people have secured employment at our other sites or wider group businesses – namely our sister site in Thetford and at the Bernard Matthews site at Holton.

“An additional 65 roles were also offered at this BM site, but unfortunately they were not taken up.

“We only keep data of redeployed colleagues – so unfortunately we have no visibility on the remainder – although we do understand the local economy is buoyant and there are more roles than people currently in the region.”

They added: “Today is an extremely sad day for all concerned.”

The closure plans were announced in May as part of a review into the company’s loss-making sites. Initially, up to 600 jobs were thought to be at risk.

At the time, chief executive Ronald 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.”

The closure plans were finalised in July after a 45-day consultation. The trade union Unite bargained on behalf of workers.

The 2 Sisters food group also produces Fox’s biscuits.