CRUCIAL talks take place tomorrow over the future of a Hampshire breadmaker threatened with the axe.

Union leaders will meet bosses at the Hovis bakery in Eastleigh where 82 workers are to lose their jobs.

The Daily Echo revealed yesterday how the owners of iconic bread-makers Hovis want to shut their factory at Toynbee Road.

If the closure plan goes ahead, staff will be out of work by mid June.

Bosses at the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union will begin talks with managers tomorrow, the first day of a period of consultation.

A distribution centre, which operates on the site and employs 90 people, will remain unaffected under the factory closure plans.

Premier Foods has said Eastleigh’s Hovis factory was its smallest and that it “lacks the flexibility to meet our future requirements”.

It is the latest hammer blow for manufacturing in Eastleigh.

Last year 50 Hovis staff comprising warehouse operators, drivers and administrative workers were told they were facing the axe amid plans to close a distribution centre in Chandler’s Ford.

Hundreds of jobs also went when Eastleigh’s Mr Kipling cake factory closed its doors in 2005.

Last night, Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne said: “Every job loss is a shock for the families involved, and my sympathies go out to them.

“This shows that there continue to be real problems in many local businesses even though there are also hopeful signs elsewhere like the big increase in local apprenticeships at GE aviation. It is a tough year, and the local recovery is still patchy.”

Jimmy Chestnutt, chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said the latest announcement was evidence the economy was still “volatile” for firms in the area.

“I am sure Hovis will be working with employees and representatives to ensure there is assistance provided to those at risk which may involve relocation, but also provide assistance in finding new employment.”