The UK-based dairy processor has proposed an end to production at its Crudgington site within the next 18 to 24 months following a two year strategic review of its UK spreads manufacturing operations.
In line with the proposed closure, the firm intends to consolidate its retail butter and spreads manufacturing operations.
The closure proposal has come as no surprise to workers at the site, according to the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), as the plant has been working under capacity for some time.
Around 160 jobs will be lost if the closure is completed, Dairy Crest confirmed.
“As part of our continued drive to improve efficiency throughout our business, we have undertaken a Strategic Review of our Spreads manufacturing operations,” said a statement released by Dairy Crest.
“Following this two year review we can confirm that we are proposing to stop production at our site at Crudgington, Shropshire and consolidate manufacture of all our retail Butters and Spreads at our existing Kirkby site in Liverpool and increase bulk butter production at our Severnside creamery in Gloucestershire.”
“We are also proposing to move our Technical Development centre from Crudgington to Kirkby and as a result, the closure of the Crudgington site. Regrettably, therefore, jobs losses at Crudgington may result as a consequence of this decision, which has not been taken lightly.”
Dairy Crest added, however, that should the Crudgington plant close, an additional 50 roles will be created at its Kirkby facility and around 20 extra at its Severnside site.
Discussions with trade unions and employee representatives are set to begin shortly.
Shock, but no surprise
According to USDAW, which has around 100 members currently employed at Dairy Crest’s Crudgington plant, the decision “while still a shock for members, won’t really have come as a surprise to them.”
“Both Crudgington and Kirby have been operating under capacity and ever since the review started a couple of years ago, we’ve been aware the company might seek to consolidate spreads manufacturing on just one site. We have feared the worst for Crudgington ever since the announcement to transfer Clover production was made,” said USDAW area organiser, Paul Taylor.
“Any closure is unlikely to take place until 2014 at the earliest and we’ll use this short breathing space to do all we can to support members and explore all alternatives to protect their livelihoods,” he added.