United Biscuits: Fire at Amcor won’t disrupt supplies

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: United biscuits

United Biscuits: Fire at Amcor won’t disrupt supplies
A serious fire at a factory supplying packaging materials to United Biscuits’ McVitie's factory in Carlisle has not significantly disrupted production, the biscuit and snacks firm insists.

A United Biscuits (UB) spokeswoman confirmed that the Amcor Flexibles packaging plant at Livingston had suffered from a serious fire, but told FoodManufacture.co.uk that for the “great majority of products affected, replacement packaging film will be received before existing stocks of product or packaging run out”.

She added: “The supplier has already made other packaging facilities available to us and we are working hard with our suppliers to minimise any disruption to our factories, customers and consumers​.

“Amcor is a major packaging supplier to UB but it is a large company with a number of other manufacturing facilities and we are working closely with it to restore supply as soon as possible.”

The UB factory, which makes custard creams, ginger nuts and other biscuits, was badly damaged in 2005 when floodwater swept through several food preparation areas.

The flooding caused the entire ground level of the plant, including offices and manufacturing facilities, to become submerged in up to nine feet of water.

Takeover rumours

UB, which was acquired by private equity firms Blackstone and PAI Partners in 2006 for £1.6bn, is up for sale. It has been linked to a variety of suitors in recent weeks, including Shanghai-based Bright Food Group ​and US giant Campbell Soup Company.

The firm, which owns brands including McVitie’s, Twiglets, Hula Hoops and KP Nuts, posted profits up 14% to £223m on sales of £1.3bn last year, although it has £1.2bn of debt.

UB operates 11 factories in the UK and four factories in Continental Europe. It also has a group technical centre in High Wycombe and a HQ in Hayes, Middlesex.

Jennie Formby, national officer for food and drink at trade union Unite, said it was a worrying time for UB staff: "This uncertainty about United Biscuits' future is not welcome. Whenever businesses are bought and sold, particularly by private equity, invariably our members see their terms and conditions attacked and jobs offshored as new owners try to maximise profits from the company."

Related topics: Confectionery

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