Mars Petcare has confirmed it will close its Whanganui factory at the end of next year, resulting in the loss of 150 jobs.

The American-owned company announced at the end of September it intended to move production of cat food pouches from Castlecliff to a facility in Thailand, and said it was going through a consultation process with staff.

Today the company told staff, referred to by Mars as "associates", that no viable alternatives to closure had been found and the factory would end production in Whanganui in late 2020.

"I want to thank our associates for 26 years of outstanding service, but particularly over the last four weeks," Dan Pope, supply transformation lead, said.


"Since announcing the proposal last month, our associates and their unions have actively consulted with us about the financial state of the factory, and the barriers to making the site sustainable in the long term. Unfortunately, no viable alternatives to closure were identified."

Mars Petcare said it would now work with staff to develop a support programme to help them transition to new jobs.

It said in a statement staff who left Mars Petcare when production ceased in late 2020 would receive redundancy compensation, as well as training to meet local demand, outplacement assistance and financial planning.

"Our associates are valued throughout Whanganui and beyond for their level of technical skills, high safety standards, and leadership capability," Pope said.

"We're really gratified by the way the business community has rallied around us already to identify new job opportunities, and we plan on working closely with local stakeholders over the next year to find the best outcomes for our associates and for Whanganui."

Mars Petcare, which owns the Castlecliff land on which the factory stands, said it would work with community and business leaders in late 2020 to identify options for future sale and use of the property.

Union leaders have been approached for comment.

When the closure was first proposed in late September the Manufacturing and Construction Workers' Union said its 70 members at the factory were not happy.


Union general secretary George Larkins said the factory had struggled to put enough product through to make its four shifts worthwhile, and while changing to three shifts was being discussed, people had been trying to resolve the matter for years.

He said the union believed the parent company wasn't giving Whanganui enough work.

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said when the initial announcement was made it was a disappointing proposal for the entire community.

"My empathy goes out to the staff who will be feeling pretty unsettled," he said.

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall. Photo / File
Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall. Photo / File

"But saying that, the one thing is you've got a very committed cohort of staff members who have worked very hard, they know the processes and are a very stable workforce.

"I see this as potential opportunity for another manufacturer to come in and utilise the staff."


McDouall said he didn't expect it to damage Whanganui for other large businesses looking to move to the district.

"You've got to look at the fact this is a macro-economic decision, this is a global multi-national and the move is not because the factory is unprofitable, it is profitable, but it's just they can increase profits and scale by moving to Thailand.

"It's understandable in corporate terms but it's just disappointing right now for 150 people."

The Thailand factory would have five times the volume capacity of the Whanganui facility, and be able to supply pouch products to the entire Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand, Mars said in a statement at the time of announcing the proposal.

The company celebrated its 25th anniversary of operations in Whanganui last year.