The proposal would see production of the company’s Robinsons and Fruit Shoot drinks moved to its manufacturing sites in East London, Leeds and Rugby. If implemented, the plan would result in the closure of the site towards the end of 2019.
Britvic said closing the factory was part of its plans to improve the efficiency and productivity of its manufacturing operations. Britvic’s board of directors has entered consultation with affected staff and Unilever, which co-owns the site.
The manufacturer said staff would be offered a comprehensive package of support, including redeployment opportunities at other sites and outplacement services to help find alternative employment.
‘Upsetting news for our colleagues’
Britvic ceo Simon Litherland said: “This is not a proposal that we make lightly and we know this is upsetting news for our colleagues. We are very grateful for the hard work and dedication of our employees at our Norwich factory and today's announcement is in no way a reflection on their performance or commitment.
“However the changes we are proposing today present significant productivity and efficiency savings in our manufacturing operations, deliver environmental benefits and ensure that we have the flexibility and capability we need.”
Litherland added that Britvic would make no decisions before a full consultation with its employees was made.
Investing a net £240M
In November 2015, Britvic announced a three-year business capability programme – investing a net £240M in its UK manufacturing operations – to ensure it had the appropriate infrastructure to compete in the market and deliver sustainable cost and commercial benefits.
The proposed closure of the Norwich site would not affect this investment, claimed Britvic.
However, Unite the union warned the closure of the Norwich site would affect Unilever workers that and the future production of Colman’s Mustard. See Unite’s national officer Rhys McCarthy’s comment below.
Meanwhile, food manufacturer Hain Daniels plans to review its chilled desserts facility in Norfolk, putting up to 500 jobs at risk.
Unite’s concerns over the closure of Britvic’s Norwich site
Unite’s national officer Rhys McCarthy raised concerns over the future of Unilever’s staff at the Norwich factory and the production of the iconic Colman’s Mustard.
“The iconic Colman's Mustard has been produced at the same factory since the 1860s,” said McCarthy.
“Unite will not only be seeking assurances, but applying pressure with the support of the local community, that the production and the much-needed jobs that are vital for the Norwich economy remain.”