Britvic announced late on Friday 15 December that the site in Norwich is to close – putting hundreds of jobs at risk.
Hundreds of food processing jobs were put at risk as Britvic Plc announced it is to pull out of the Carrow Works plant in Norwich that it co-owns with Unilever.
Britvic plan to move out of Norwich by 2019 and relocating operations to their other sites in London, Leeds and Rugby to make what they describe as “significant productivity and efficiency savings”.
Britvic CEO Simon Litherland said:
This was not a proposal that we made lightly and we understand that the outcome of the collective consultation process will be upsetting for our colleagues in Norwich. It is a sad and difficult time.
As well as putting 240 Britvic jobs at risk, the decision to pull out of the plant has also led Unilever to consider doing the same – which could cost a further 100 jobs. A statement released by Unilever following the Britvic announcement said:
We are aware of Britvic’s confirmation that it will be withdrawing from our shared Norwich site. We have been reviewing our own operations in Norwich in light of Britvic’s closure proposal and have confirmed with our employees that we will announce the outcome of our review in the new year.
In response to Britvic’s announcement, Unite the Union issued a statement describing the decision as “a hammer blow for the workers and the economy of Norwich in the run up Christmas”. The union also criticised Britvic for “sneaking out” the news late on a Friday as people are preparing for Christmas.
Unite national officer for the food and drink sector Julia Long branded the announcement as “a classic case of trying to bury bad news”. Julia said:
This is a hammer blow for the dedicated workforce and their families, especially when it comes just before Christmas. It is bad news for the wider Norfolk economy, especially as we face challenging economic times in 2018.
Unite will work tirelessly with all key stakeholders to see what can be done, even at this eleventh hour.
We have about 32 engineering and maintenance members at the Britvic site and we will be providing maximum support and assistance to them in the difficult days and weeks ahead.
We will be exploring with the company suitable redeployment opportunities within the Britvic group.
Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy, who has the Unilever portfolio, said:
It is very sad news that Britvic is closing its operations in Norwich which potentially has an impact on Unilever workers who the share the same site.
We have a number of engineering workers on the Unilever site and we will be redoubling our efforts in the next week to get more clarity as to the future of the Unilever part of the site.
The iconic Colman’s Mustard has been produced at the same factory since the 1860s and Unite would strongly like that manufacturing tradition to continue.