Mars Petcare is on track with plans to close its Whanganui factory at the end of 2020 but says Covid-19 has disrupted the assistance it intended to provide for staff who will lose their jobs.

At the time the planned closure was announced in November 2019, Mars employed 152 staff in Whanganui.

"Like all businesses in the area, Covid-19 has had a significant impact on our site," spokesman Dan Pope said.

"The plan remains for the factory to end production in Whanganui by the end of 2020. In the meantime, we're focused on supporting our staff."


In November 2019 Mars said there would be a support programme to help staff transition to new jobs, plus training and help with financial planning, and that the local business community was helping to identify job opportunities.

"Face-to-face restrictions put in place to protect the site from the threat of Covid-19 has limited some of our retraining and transition support, but we are creating online opportunities wherever possible," Pope said.

Mars has previously said it will work with community and business leaders to identify options for future sale and use of the property.

"We'll begin discussions around the sale of the site in the second half of the year, with the support of the business community," Pope said.

Last year Whanganui and Partners said it would offer to help affected staff find training providers and other local employers, and will be contacting businesses appropriate for the Mars Petcare site.

Whanganui and Partners were approached for comment on Monday.

Mars intends to move production of cat food pouches from Whanganui to a facility in Thailand. 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 says the move would save $US$10.8 million a year.

The American-owned family company has been operating in Whanganui for 27 years after buying the former Lucky Petfood business in Castlecliff.