The company said on Thursday that it intends to close factories in Swansea and Slough, as well as a distribution centre in Bridgend by the end of 2013. Unilever’s IT centre in Ewloe, Wales will close during 2014 with about 400 jobs relocating to Port Sunlight, about 15 miles away, and about 100 jobs being moved to Unilever’s IT centre in Bangalore, India. Another 300 associated contractor and distributor roles will also be cut, the company said.
The company said that it was confirming proposed changes to its UK business that it put forward in June, including a £40m investment in a new IT hub in Port Sunlight, which will gain 150 jobs. Following the closure of the Bridgend distribution centre, the company intends to work with a third-party facility in Deeside, with the creation of about 50 jobs.
Unilever’s brands include Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Brooke Bond tea, Knorr and Bertolli, as well as home care and personal care brands such as Cif, Dove and Persil. The firm employs around 7,200 people in the UK.
The Swansea factory is Unilever’s former Alberto Culver manufacturing site, while the Slough site is its former Sara Lee personal care factory.
Amanda Sourry, chairman of Unilever UK and Ireland said in a statement: “We understand that many of our employees will be anxious at this time. That’s why we are today pledging a good package of support for employees who are adversely affected. We will consult fully on these measures, and are committed to conducting a sensitive and thorough consultation and helping our employees to understand their options for the future.”
Senior research analyst for food and home & personal care products at Sanford C Bernstein, Andrew Wood, said last month that one of the biggest areas for improvement in the company lay outside of food in operating profit margins for home & personal care products.