beverages, plastics, packaging

Britvic has confirmed the closure of its Norwich, UK manufacturing site, which is co-owned with Unilever, resulting in the loss of more than 230 jobs in the city.

The decision was first publicised in October, with Britvic stating that it needed to make the changes to deliver efficiencies in the business. A spokesperson commented that staff were informed of the decision last Friday and the company will attempt to redeploy staff where possible. However, with the sites taking on production based in Rugby, Leeds and London, this will likely be unsuitable for many workers.

The spokesperson said that 249 workers were currently employed at the site, though 13 of them were on fixed-term contracts set to expire by the scheduled closure date in 2019. No further comments were made on whether the remaining 236 workers will continue at the site until closure, or whether it would be wound down over time.

In a statement, chief executive 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. I want to thank everyone at Norwich, past and present, for their dedication, hard work and commitment, and I would like to say again that this decision is in no way a reflection of their performance.

“However, transferring production of Robinsons and Fruit Shoot to our other GB manufacturing sites – coupled with our investment in the wider GB supply chain – will deliver significant productivity and efficiency savings in our manufacturing operations.

“It will also deliver environmental benefits and ensure that we have the flexibility and capability we need to respond to changing consumer trends faster and more efficiently.”

The Britvic closure raises questions over the future of Unilever’s factory based on the same Carrow site, which produces Colman’s mustard and mint sauces, as it has been reviewing its future at the site after Britvic indicated it could withdraw.

It is assumed that Unilever may stay on site or move to either the new food enterprise zone at Honingham Thorpe or a site on the Norwich Airport industrial estate.