A Unilever spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the firm told employees at the Carrow site, (which employs around 170 staff) last month of plans to improve site competitiveness in light of the food giant's growth ambitions.
"As part of this plan, we have committed to investing around £2.6m to upgrade and expand the production capabilities we have at the factory which will be critical to support the future growth of the business,” he said.
“We anticipate that this upgrade will be completed by mid 2012, and is the largest investment that Unilever has ever made at our Norwich site. However, the changes mean that there may be a reduction of approximately 20 roles on site.”
Consultation period underway
The spokesman added that Unilever has now entered a period of consultation with employees and their [union] representatives, and “will continue to communicate and engage with them in a timely way as we seek to implement these changes”.
GMB regional organiser Glen Holdom told FoodManufacture.co.uk that he expected any staff departures to be voluntary: “Our line is that we’re not unhappy with the investments and restructuring that’s ongoing at the site, so long as there aren’t any compulsory redundancies.”
He said the GMB hoped that alternative jobs for staff might be found within Unilever, provided these were given upon the basis of comparable terms and conditions of employment.
The capital investment in Colman’s is the largest Unilever has made since acquiring the firm in 1995. Colman’s has been produced at Carrow since 1865, and varieties such as English and wholegrain are produced at the site, as well as Jif lemon juice, Colman’s sauces and dried condiments.