Cadbury jobs cut despite £75m Bournville investment

Cadbury chocolate The Bournville factory makes chocolate including Dairy Milk, Creme Eggs and Wispas

Birmingham-based chocolate maker Cadbury has warned jobs will be cut despite a £75m investment in its Bournville headquarters.

The money - earmarked for modernising machinery - will be released over three years and is expected to secure the future of the site.

But a spokesman for the firm said he believed there would be a reduction its workforce as a result of the changes.

The Unite trade union said it hoped any job losses would be voluntary.

Cadbury said investment would bring four new production lines to the Bournville plant, which opened in 1879.

The business was taken over by American food giant Kraft in 2010.

Cadbury's history at Bournville

Part of Cadbury's offices in Bournville
  • Bournville began life in 1879, a year after George and Richard Cadbury moved all manufacturing from the centre of Birmingham
  • Bournville village was established by the brothers, who built 313 houses there to accommodate their workers
  • In 1900, they established the Bournville Village Trust to care for and maintain the growing community of Bournville
  • The Dairy Milk bar was first produced in Bournville in 1905

The Bournville factory currently produces some of the firm's most popular chocolate bars, including Dairy Milk, Creme Eggs and Wispas.

Tony Bilsborough, a spokesman for Cadbury's parent company Mondelez, said he could not comment on "specific" figures but admitted job losses were likely.

Speaking to BBC WM, he said: "We are just trying to be open and frank and say 'we believe there will be a reduction in numbers' but that's down to discussions we are having with the workforce now."

Reece McCarthy, national officer for Unite, said the firm had so far been transparent about its plans but the union favoured voluntary redundancies.

"We would oppose compulsory redundancies," he said.

Mr Bilsborough had said earlier it was "difficult to say" whether the investment would lead to new products.

He said: "We will be looking to grow manufacturing volumes and to have the capabilities to introduce new products.

"This is all subject to ongoing consultations".

'Seminal moment'

Joe Clarke, regional industrial officer for Unite, said the investment was "desperately needed".

"Some of the plant and equipment is more than 30 years old and we haven't been able to compete with other manufacturers within the group," he added.

Analysis

Cadbury owners Mondelez International say this investment will make the Bournville site a world-class manufacturer of chocolate.

At the moment production costs at the Birmingham factory are twice as high as many of Cadbury's competitors.

The union Unite, which represents 2,000 workers on the site, has welcomed the investment despite the fact Cadbury is not ruling out future job losses.

But both the unions and management say the £75m investment may even create more employment opportunities in the long-term.

Mr Clarke said the investment would increase efficiency and "open the door" to bidding for new products.

He likened the investment to that of another local manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover, which has announced increased production levels.

"At least we've got an opportunity to secure the future of the site," Mr Clarke added.

The Bournville plant also includes the company's chocolate research and development site, which works on the creation of new chocolate bars.

The company said the investment would include replacing out-of-date production lines and opening new ones.

The factory currently employs about 960 workers.

Tim Pile, president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, earlier said the investment marked a "seminal moment" for Bournville.

"Like other parts of British manufacturing there is a productivity gap in Bournville that needs closing in order for Bournville to compete with the best in the world," he added.

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