The union has advertised the “profitable” Somerset cider mill after its owner C&C Group announced its closure, with the loss of 127 jobs, this summer.
Unite regional coordinating officer Steve Preddy said C&C made a $17.1M (£13M) profit from the cider mill’s business group in 2014.
“The site is a profitable one and has been for many years,” Preddy said. “Currently this year the cider mill is on target again to make a decent profit for the group.”
Cider making tradition
Workers met today at 11am at the site in Kilver Street in a bid to fight for the future of the town’s nearly 250-year-old cider making tradition.
“Unite, on behalf of its members, would like to thank the people and organisations of Shepton Mallet and across the West Country for their support for the cider mill to continue,” he said.
“This has been very heartening, but we now need to move to the next campaigning stage.”
Earlier this month C&C announced plans to move production from Shepton Mallet to its manufacturing site in Clonmel, Ireland.
A C&C spokesman said the group has invested in a new bottling line and more than doubled the size of the sales and commercial team since acquiring the Shepton Mallet cidery in 2009.
Cider price drop
“However, the price of cider in a supermarket has since dropped by more than 40% to £1.20, driven down by large international competitors such as Stella and Carling entering the market aggressively,” he said.
“Despite our efforts, we have had to recognise that we cannot maintain three manufacturing sites at just 34% capacity utilisation, which led to the announcement to consolidate into Clonmel.
“It was a very tough decision to take and not one taken lightly. Our focus now is on our employees and we are working hard to mitigate some of the impact for employees here in Shepton and in Ireland.”
The fruit milling operation at Shepton Mallet will not been affected. Under the plans, C&C plans to invest in packaging and logistics capability in Clonmel, creating 80 extra roles.