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Has Kraft saved Keynsham?

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Dave Harvey | 08:01 UK time, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

So the battle is over. After six months of very public wrangling, Cadburys and Kraft have kissed, made up, and signed a deal. The details are for our city desk, but the fact that Cadburys are recommending the takeover changes everything for Keynsham.

Cadburys Keynsham Factory

The town's chocolate factory, earmarked for closure this year under Cadbury plans, should now be saved if Kraft keep their promise.

(Kraft's UK Chief Exec, Nick Bunker, speaking in October 2009)

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"I'm feeling elated, but jittery", Amoree Radford told BBC Radio Bristol this morning. Amoree's been a lone voice for the past six months, the only Brit backing Kraft. But when Cadburys said they would close the Keynsham factory two years ago, Amoree began a tenacious campaign to "Save Cadburys in Keynsham".

There's been a chocolate factory in the town on the banks of the Avon since 1935. Ironically, it was founded after another merger, this time one in which Cadbury was the predator, taking over the Bristol firm of JS Fry. Fry's Chocolate Cream and Turkish Delight were already household favourites, and Fry's became a tasty treat that the larger Birmingham company took a shine to. Sound familiar?

Over the next 75 years the factory became a central part of Keynsham life. Its 230-acre site is a familiar landmark, not least because much of it is covered in football pitches. My mother-in-law played hockey on the grounds, as have thousands of Keynshamites and indeed Bristolians over the years. The Quaker community principles rooted Cadbury's deep into the fabric of local life.

All that love was lost in a big hurry when Cadbury announced, in 2007, they would close the place. This was to be the plant's last year in operation. Spin forward to 7 September 2009, and tucked away in Kraft's offer for Cadburys was this pledge:

"We believe we would be in a position to continue to operate the Somerdale facility,
which is currently planned to be closed."

So, should Keynsham trust the Americans? Unite, the staff union, is sceptical. They point to Kraft's takeover of Terry's of York, in the 1990s. Go to York today, and union leaders will show you a museum but no factory. The famous chocolate orange is now made in Poland. But in Kraft's defence, they did operate the York plant for 13 years after the takeover. And Keynsham's chocolate factory had been marched right to the brink, so people there tell me Kraft cannot be worse than the Cadbury management.

Amoree Radford"Kraft's people seem very nice," Amoree Radford told me this morning. "They employ over a thousand people making Kenco coffee here. Their base is just up the road in Cheltenham. And the Cadbury board have already done the dirty on us. We never wanted to lose the chocolate, we wanted to lose the board."

For now, we must wait and see the details of the deal. But one thing is sure. If you want to find people cheering the takeover of a British chocolate icon by an American food giant, the best place to look is Keynsham.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    You ask if Keynsham should trust the Americans. No, they shouldn't - corporations are not about welfare they're about profits and shareholder value (ironicly the Cadbury's staff will be accepting this offer via their pension funds if it is accepted).

    Factors also to take into consideration surrounding trust/corporations:

    - If the corporation has borrowed 7 billion to buy you, they become far more untrustworthy.
    - If the corporation is operating in a difficult economic climate, again, they're less trustworthy.
    - If the corporation has a major shareholder like Warren Buffett who tends to demand exceptional results for shareholders, no, they cannot to be trusted.

    Finally, don't expect the government to intervene as Gordon Brown and David Cameron will simply direct the workers to the nearest KFC that's opening along with all the public sector workers they're planning to sack and 'privatise'.

    This is another fine moment in the history of the Washington Consensus.

  • Comment number 2.

    Well thats it them I for one will not be buying Cadbury again , I tried the American version of the Cadbury name in the USA it just is not Cadbury chocolate, and watch the jobs ....new brooms etc, all business is now about shareholders and cash , right i know they have to make a profit but profit and mega bucks are two different things ...and how many more British companies is this government going to sell abroad !!! what do we own as a country now !! i think the answer is "not a lot ".

  • Comment number 3.

    @Sylvia, it is that kind of attitude that will lead to the Keynsham branch closing under Kraft's control. If all of these Cadbury lovers want to keep branches open, they need to be loyal to the brand and keep buying their chocolate.. Otherwise they will not be receiving the revenue necessary to keep the plant alive!

    Its all good and well saying "I'm never going to buy Cadbury again" but that attitude will see the death of Cadbury's, for good.

  • Comment number 4.

    Having grown up near the Cadburys factory and been part of the campaign to keep Cadburys in Keynsham it appears to be good news. We will have to see if the factory is still operating in a few years. It is a small factory, but has been important to the local economy and community. My family had ties with the Fry's factory for many years in the past. The factory was earmarked for closure as the cost in production abroad was cheaper.

  • Comment number 5.

    In spite of all the promises made by Kraft regarding the Keynsham premises,I predict that within a year of the dust settling those premises will be closed.The land will then be sold off for housing.
    I hope I'm wrong.

    greybeard1

  • Comment number 6.

    Cadbury's took over Fry's chocolate and degraded the taste and quality. Nestle took over Rowntree's and did the same. Kraft have already done it to Terry's and will no doubt do it to Cadbury. It all about saving on manufacturing costs to boost profits to shareholders. That's what Kraft will do to Cadbury.

  • Comment number 7.

    we are selling everything that england is renound for from the Qe2 to concord and now our british chocolate our history is being wiped out

  • Comment number 8.

    My mum was brought up down the road in Saltford. Aged 15 her class from the Secondary Modern was given a trip to Somerdale to see the production line. It was the beginning of the end for post-wartime rationing. The nation was falling for the luxurious charms of the newly introduced Crunchie bar. We hadn't had it so good by then, but 50's Britain was slowly entering the orbit of the consumer society.

    With hairnets donned it was a revelation to see at first hand how such a rare luxury was mass produced with all the mechanical wonder involved.

    At the end of a magical tour they were elated to be given a sample bar and less so to be handed a job application form!

  • Comment number 9.

    well I'm not sure Cadburys are "British" anyway, they are owned by large financial institutions and only about 12% of their workforce are UK based.

    I'm not sure it will be in Krafts interests to damage the quality of the products as its a very competitive market.

    As for those bemoaning the state of British Industry and that we don't make anything anymore - cheer up it's not so bad, we used to be renowned for making shoddy badly designed products that feel to bits as soon as you looked at them and the British disease - striking - was world renowned.

    Nowadays where we do manufacture quality is much better and its high value modern well designed goods.

    My 2 examples are Triumph Motorcycles & Surrey Satellite Systems. Triumph now make brilliant reliable products sold around the world in increasing quantities something not known since the 50's, the same is true of cars Leyland are dead and buried thank god and now we have large scale production (Japanese owned) of reliable cars exported around the world in quantities not seen before.

    SSL have just won the EU project to build satellites to run the new European GPS system.

    It's so easy to knock our country - its part of being British - but in the real world things aren't so bad.

  • Comment number 10.

    I hope Kraft will keep Keynsham open but until "Shareholder Value" is replaced with an equitable approach to profitability and employee welfare, industry in this country will continue to decline.
    Let's face it, if Britons like Dyson - who made his millions on the backs of a British workforce and then dumped them to maximise shareholder value by shipping his work to Malaysia - cannot be trusted to do what is right for the people of the country of his birth why should a bunch of Americans?
    Much as Dyson is my all time hate figure - he was not the first: look at Raleigh bicycles and Hornby trains shifted to cheaper labour sources. These entrepreneurs / industrialists won't be happy until we are all paid wages on a level with those in eastern Europe - despite their mega millions.

  • Comment number 11.

    Generations of my family have worked at the Cadbury's factory in Keynsham and I even had my wedding reception there! I really hope Kraft will keep the Keynsham factory open and ensure the jobs of staff there are kept in Keynsham. The land is all flood plains so it would be a total disaster if it was sold off for housing as has been suggested previously, anyone who lives locally knows how badly it floods there.

    Above all though, there's a lot of history at that site because of Fry's and to just get rid of it all would be a travesty.

    Please keep Keynsham open Kraft!

  • Comment number 12.

    'Culverin', please explain how this is even remotely connected to the Washington consensus.

  • Comment number 13.

    >Tyto ALba
    >Much as Dyson is my all time hate figure

    Really, above Hitler or Stalin?

    All the poor guy did was to invent and design a brilliant product and manufacture it. However in order to keep costs down (and probaboy increase his wealth) he moved some manufacturing abroad, as fas as I know he still lives in the UK and employs over 350 in the UK in well paid and high tech design and development jobs. I don't believe he received inordinate amounts of government money to setup in the first place?

    He contributes quite a bit to our economy, fancy detailing your overall contribution for a comparison?

  • Comment number 14.

    Unfortunately, I suspect the combination of Kraft making this semi-commitment as a PR move and Cadbury being well on the way to shifting production to Poland will mean that Kraft will be able to wriggle out of keeping Somerdale open, which would be a huge shame.

    If it had always been just about dollars and cents, there wouldn't have been a Cadbury business of this magnitude for the shareholders to sell.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm pleased that Cadbury's has been taken over by Kraft, I've made an enormous profit from holding Cadbury shares since the takeover bid and am now able to sell them.

    It does not bother me that some Cadburys workers will lose their jobs; if they do then they only have themselves to blame for bieng part of the trade union machine in this country that constantly generates upward pressure on wages/costs, repelling overseas firms from locating here.

    I'll short Cadburys' shares in the future.

  • Comment number 16.

    Some of the views here are quite short sighted sadly. I have worked in Uk manufacturing for my working life and have spent many years working for an American company which treated UK employees very well. The company was Colgate Palmolive. They did shut down their UK Manufacturing operation in 2008 affecting 452 permanent employees and over 200 contractors and many more service providers in the UK. The knock on effect was dramatic. Moving to Poland. No campaign ran to save those jobs or stop buying any of their products.
    If people stop buying Cadbury products then Kraft may make a similar move and the UK jobs will be lost forever. Think of the bigger picture please and keep the jobs here as long as financially feasible.
    To answer those write who thinks that Kraft would look at changing the UK recipes? Why would they? Companies with that size have got that size by tailoring their products to the region they are in.
    One last point. Rather than considering only buying from UK owned firms, why not buy products manufactured in the UK. Unilever are a Dutch/UK owned firm but make all the UK laundry products here Persil and Surf, Comfort, Domestos, CIF, Helmanns mayonaise, Walls Ice Cream and Marmite to name but a view are all made in the UK. Cussons NZ made a great decision a few years ago not to move to eastern europe but invest in British manufacturing. Support factories like them and the Cadburys employees will continue to have an income. Good luck all, especially the Keynsham team.

  • Comment number 17.

  • Comment number 18.

    Bye Bye Keynsham, Kraft-Cadbury is off to Poland. Anyone really surprised?

  • Comment number 19.

    @Ricky, yes maybe a facebook group will somehow influence the decisions made by Kraft management, what a brillant idea!

 

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