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"Kraft made a fool of us," say Keynsham chocolate workers

Dave Harvey | 18:36 UK time, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Amoree Radford is utterly gutted. "I believed Kraft totally," she told BBC Points West tonight. "But they made a fool of me. They are utterly despicable."

Amoree Radford in Keynsham tonightThroughout the Kraft / Cadbury takeover battle, Amoree took what she called "the glass half-full approach". When she read that famous pledge from the American Chief Exec Irene Rosenfeld, "...we believe we would be in a position to continue to operate the Somerdale facility..." Amoree believed it.

Cynics scoffed, many of them on this blog. 'greybead1' put it like this.

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. I hope I am wrong.

Well, greybeard, you were right.

I was told by a Wall St insider that Irene Rosenfeld's personal word was at stake. That a U-turn would be a 'PR disaster'. Well, Wall St was wrong. At 5:56 tonight, this dropped in my inbox from Kraft:

"Regrettably, the company has now confirmed that the Somerdale plant will close by 2011 in line with the plans already put in place by Cadbury".

A worker leaves the Cadbury factoryThe 500 staff at Keynsham were told this afternoon, by Cadbury managers. One worker on his way out tonight told us "It was obviously a big fat lie. Apparently the plans to move to Poland were too far gone to reverse them, so we're still for the chop."

So what has changed? Is there anything more here than just "a big fat lie"?

Kraft are refusing any television or radio interviews point blank. But their spokesman in the UK, Jonathan Horrell, tells me everything changed when they got the keys to the Cadbury kingdom. They talked to the Cadbury people working on the move to Poland. They discovered a £100 million factory was being built, and the majority of chocolate lines were already being transferred.

And so Irene Rosenfeld issued a new personal statement:

"It became clear that it is unrealistic to reverse the closure programme, despite our original intent to do so. While this is a difficult decision, we have moved quickly to end any further uncertainty."

Surely, I press him, none of this was new. We all knew the Cadbury plans were well advanced. Everyone in Keynsham knew that people would start to leave in March. That chocolates would start being marked "Made in Poland". You can see the new factory on Polish TV, on the internet.

No, Mr Horrell insists, we had no information from Cadbury throughout the negotiation. Only last week did Cadbury and Kraft executives sit down and work through the detail. It is regrettable, he tells me, but it is a genuine change of heart based on new information.

Dan Norris, the local MP, told Points West he was "bitterly disappointed at this news. We've had our hopes raised, and now dashed again. In a global market this is what happens, foreign companies buy British companies, but I'm not concerned about that today - I'm concerned about the people locally who are affected."

Of course, six months ago Keynsham knew its beloved chocolate factory was closing. So have they lost anything? Not substantially, no. But the bitterness is etched on Amoree Radford's face. Bitterness, and betrayal. What passions our chocolates arouse.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    i wont be suprised if kraft close lots of outlets--and move more work to poland where wages are low and kraft can make more profit---but we knew that before it happend--its typical to take jobs out of uk and this dreadful labour goverment-

  • Comment number 2.

    Is anyone really surprised at this news? The shifting of production out of the UK was always going to happen. Bye Bye Cadbury, it was nice knowing you.........

  • Comment number 3.

    every ordinary working person in the u/k knows what happens when takeovers happen to us One thing is for shore, his name should be changed to lord gullable,or Lord meddlesome. A 16 year old could have told him what would happen and we the poor tax payers pays his wages .Things must change at the top, most of them seem brainless.

  • Comment number 4.

    No one should either be surprised or should blame Kraft for this - it's the nature of the globalisation game. A game that we are no good at playing, but until recently we always got to play because it was our ball.

    However if Kraft are asking me to believe that their due diligence failed to uncover a £100m Polish factory in the works, they must be barmy.

  • Comment number 5.

    There's a lot of evidence to suggest that moving to cheaper labour areas is not as cost-effective as the bean counters would have us believe.
    VW, for one, caught a cold when they moved production to Hungary. I believe 'Cadbury' chocolate will lose out in this move, both through a dip in quality and a loss of UK popular support for the brand.

  • Comment number 6.

    Looks like Kraft have proven themselves the wolf in sheep's clothing again with no intention of saving the Keynsham chocolate factory. Warnings were given by former Terry's chocolate workers when they did the same to them. Time to vote with our feet on all their products I think!

  • Comment number 7.

    Hmmmm.
    I remember something similar happening with Taunton Cider.
    Grand take-over by an American firm followed by a rapid downsizing - followed by an equally rapid destruction.
    Cadbury's chocolate made in Poland won't be a) British or b) the same - we might as well go and shop at Lidl.
    Goodbye Cadburys - thanks for the calories over the years....perhaps I'll be better able to stick to my diets now.

  • Comment number 8.

    Sold down the river, just like the rest of British industry.

  • Comment number 9.

    i think its disgusting....people should not buy there product in support of this action they have taken

  • Comment number 10.

    this was a british company employing british people...why should we continue to support this catastrophe

  • Comment number 11.

    Only way to teach these greedy companies a lesson is BOYCOT THE PRODUCT! And let them know you are doing it. A few thousand E-mails will rattle them big time. Might not get your jobs back but make them 'think' before doing something like that AGAIN. IT IS ALL ABOUT PEOPLE POWER.

  • Comment number 12.

    The big thing now is what does this mean for all the other promises Kraft made regarding jobs etc at Bournville?

    "Oh sorry, we didn't realise how costly/inefficienct/unsafe/etc it was to make chocolate in Bounville"

  • Comment number 13.

    Keynsham supported Kraft out of naked self-interest - why should it surprise them that Kraft then act in precisely the same way? They didn't care how many Cadbury factories closed, as long as theirs stayed open. The solidarity of workers went out of the window, with the union watching helplessly from the sidelines.

    Kraft executed a blatant divide-and-conquer tactic, and the Keynsham people went for it hook, line and sinker. They got only what was coming to them.

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't work for Cadburys, or Krafts, but there appears to be one option open to everyone. From what has been said here and on the news, there will be many jobs lost. Jobs that have been held by staff for years. So, I guess there will be redundancy money? Why don't the staff buy the factory - they already know how to make chocolate, and the factory makes a profit (as said on TV). Seems to me they have all the ingredients, and when they sell their produce, they should market the chocolate as being made in Great Britain, not in Poland - so a smaller carbon footprint when you buy from GB. As we are all being asked to reduce our carbon footprint, I see it as being a national obligation to boycott Krafts products until they see sense and keep the factories open in the UK. By all means make chocolate in Poland and sell it there - not here.

  • Comment number 15.

    No surprise whatsoever. Everything British gets sold off and shipped out to foreign investment. No wonder our GDP is non-existent, we don't make anything anymore. Myself and my family are moving to Australia in June, the prospect of living in this bankrupt, cest pit of a country is too depressing.

  • Comment number 16.

    What really surprises me is that Kraft claim they only found out how far Cadbury had gone with shifting production from Keynsham to Poland "after" the deal had gone through.

    Are they seriously telling us that the quality of the due diligence they undertook was so poor that they didn't pick up on something as glaringly obvious as this? I think not somehow.

  • Comment number 17.

    To say that these type of actions are a result of Labour policies is utterly simplistic and dreadfully uninformed. There is nothing with regards to this development that would have happened any different had it been another party in government. For the record I did not vote for Labour at the last 2 elections.

  • Comment number 18.

    Simple stop buying any Cadburys chocolate made outside the UK!!

  • Comment number 19.

    Ive just started a facebook group. Probably won't last long but with support and pledges to boycott Kraft products we may make a difference
    https://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/group.php?gid=296287322658

  • Comment number 20.

    why is everyone saying, stop buying Cadbury's products? STOP BUYING KRAFT PRODUCTS! or is this too much of a hardship for everyone?

  • Comment number 21.

    "No surprise whatsoever. Everything British gets sold off and shipped out to foreign investment. No wonder our GDP is non-existent, we don't make anything anymore. Myself and my family are moving to Australia in June, the prospect of living in this bankrupt, cest pit of a country is too depressing." PULPGRAPE

    This type of comment is quite unfortunate really because it seems that you are complaining for the sake of complaining. Regardless of what has happened over the last 2 years the UK still has a considerably large economy wit one of the highest GDP's and has some of the worlds largest companies domiciled here e.g. BAe Systems, GlaxoSmithKline, BP, BT, HSBC. Some of these are innovative international players that do benefit us greatly but also the countries and territories in which they operate.
    It is unfortunate that Cadburys has become a victim of ever expanding globalisation (I have to admit I never supported this takeover though) but it happened. British companies do make massive overseas acquisitions too and I disagree that everything British has been sold off and also to the fact that the country is a cess pit. If that is the type of attitude you have then Australia is welcome to you.

  • Comment number 22.

    Since people are well aware of the takeover and now the shameful factory closure, can't some one (venture capitalists, managers?) set up a new company so that all UK Cadbury chocolate lovers can boycott the old Cadbury/Kraft brand? Maybe they can get a government grant for it - or is that sort of support only for Gordon Brown's banker friends/future employers?

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm no great fan of Kraft, and yes they have been a bit sneaky here, but you can't blame them for the Keynsham closure, as it was Cadbury's who decided to shut it down, and it was Cadbury's who are building the plant in Poland

    As for the Poland plant, the quality of the product will be just as good (or indeed better bearing in mind the Cadbury Salmonella scandal a couple of years ago)

  • Comment number 24.

    "Amoree Radford is utterly gutted. "I believed Kraft totally," she told BBC Points West tonight. "But they made a fool of me. They are utterly despicable." "

    How long will it take the British to learn that American business people are extremely shrewd? You trust only what you have today, nothing more (unless you're on the Board of the Taker-over).

    It's ridiculous to trust any big corporation on the cusp of a takeover - more so when it involves a debt of £billions.

    I was around when the (then) Midland Bank was given a right run-around by the Americans over its acquisition of Crocker Bank in California. It ended up costing Midland shareholders £billions before it could get shot of the place. The Americans simply used Midland as a bottomless barrel of spare cash.

    Our government could have done vastly more about Cadbury (and still could for the few remaining British businesses). It claims to be clamping down on the finance industry but has done nothing about the hedge funds and private buyers who bought shares en masse from the day the takeover was proposed. It was this mass of casual (and very rich) shareholders who voted pro the takeover. Their interest was quick profit and oh boy, they cashed in all right! The government could have stopped voting rights on shares owned less than a period of such-and-such or since the day the takeover was proposed.

    A question of poor or non-existent regulation again. If a voting bar against all those greed-driven opportunists buying into Cadbury after Kraft had announced its intentions had been set, Cadbury would probably still be in British hands.

    Remember, American business people do not understand "gentleman's agreements". They're shrewd; they aren't interested in people, just money and will pursue it ruthlessly.

  • Comment number 25.

    Msg #19. PeteTumelty wrote:
    "Ive just started a facebook group. Probably won't last long but with support and pledges to boycott Kraft products we may make a difference"

    No use blaming Kraft - the takeover was part of an increasingly global and nasty business world. But you CAN blame the business naivety of British politicians. It's perfectly possible to introduce regulation that would make this sort of takeover vastly more difficult.

    Boycott Brown and Mandelson by all means - they are way out of depth dealing with American business. There is not a shred of business acumen on the Labour front bench let alone enouch to deal with this stuff.

    Mandleson, a business secretary? No, come on - stop laughing.

  • Comment number 26.

    Guys, it is high time we the British woke up...our industries, whether steel, confectionary, automotive are not competitive in the global context. The world is a small place now, evrything is global...if our industries are not competitive and profitable, we will close, its as simple as that, it just survival of the fittest. There is no point demonstrating, picketing etc... China has taken our lunch and India has taken our dinner, our Government has teken its eye off the ball, by spending our tax pounds on meaningless wars in faraway places, rather than reinvest it into our country for the benefit of its people to generate employment. The Indians and Chinese are laughing at our expense...as they now know that our and US government is sufficently distracted, for them to creep unnoticeably and before we know it, we will have a new world order, dominated by the Chinese and Indians. Its time to think holistically, Cadbury, Corus, Land Rover, Jaguar etcc...the pride of Britain, our real crown jewels is no more...its serious, and the government needs a wake up call.

  • Comment number 27.

    I do not remember this fuss when Cadbury`s sold out originally -WHY NOW.

    This is called business folks - where r British jobs for British workers?????? now - a VERY silent Clown, Mandy etc etc - they have no qualms over `people getting filthy rich` - what a shower of hypocrites.

    Get on and get over it - boycott and lose workers more jobs - what an idiotic suggestion.

  • Comment number 28.

    There is nothing wrong with telling the truth and believing others do so too. Over the past 2qtr years campaigning to KEEP CADBURYS IN KEYNSHAM ENGLAND I am pleased to say I have not misled or lied to anyone. I have always double checked my information and am proud to have tried to try to help keep 282 years of successful, profitable and productive Cadbury chocolate making here, in Bristol where chocolate making began. Please go to www.savecadburys.co.uk and read the information, history, latest news etc and seriously consider signing the pledge. If the great British public, who consume 98% of ALL Cadbury chocolate (11 lines)produced at Somerdale, are serious about keeping chocolate making here, be assured you CAN make a difference. Don't sit back and complain/ do nothing, please help. Many thanks to all who go to the website.

  • Comment number 29.

    From now on I will be looking for alternative brands rather than buy Kraft products.

  • Comment number 30.

    By being Krafty they become Cads and discredited a name in the World that was famous it will now have to be called Polburys.I hope that this chocolate will never be bought by anybody again in the UK and also stop buying Kraft products. The Government need to stop the on going loss of jobs in the UK as these jobs were in Manufacturing and would they should more important than the Banks that do not wish to loan money to Business and quite happy to survive on taxpayers money. There will be so many out work soon there we no taxpayers to fund anything.I do hope this company will see sense and protect these peoples jobs, if this is not done they can take their curs away these cheesy people.

  • Comment number 31.

    Dave:

    I am in complete agreement with # 1 Posting regarding the remarks about Kraft's promises that are pretty much not true in accordance to some chocolate workers.

    -Dennis Junior-

  • Comment number 32.

    I don't think boycotting Kraft Will make the slightest difference because there are not enough people that care about Britain's jobs to make a stand.The 'I'm all Right Jack' attitiude.
    I am amazed by some peoples comments of, what did you expect, get on with it, grow up, type of thing. We didn't expect outright lies for one.

    I am boycotting Kraft products. There won't be Kraft jobs for British people in a few years whether we boycott or not. Look at Terry's Chocolate. Every product made abroad.

    The main thing is that by doing something like this, company's lose a big market share. This isn't just about Kraft, it's about the NEXT company gearing up to take on the soft touch British companies.

    Yes, The government do have to wise up and make it hard for overseas companies. The US stopped Cadbury's buying out their similar company Hershey. Yet that was one profitable, shrewd company taking over another. They wouldnt have been able to put the offer on the table if Cadbury's had been in the mess that Kraft are in.

    The whole way big businesses are run leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Without consumers, a business would be nothing. We seem to forget that. If one unethical business goes down, maybe another, more ethical business will take it's place after learning lessons.
    I know I am naive and it probably will not happen but it's worth trying

  • Comment number 33.

    Call me naive if you like but I find it VERY hard to believe that "Trevor Bond, the ex-boss of Cadbury in the UK who is now heading Kraft across Europe", wouldn't have known how much Cadbury had already spent kitting out its factory in Poland.Refer to next paragraph.

    "Only when Kraft found out later that Cadbury had already spent tens of millions of pounds kitting out its factory in Poland, Mr Firestone said, did Kraft decide that it had no choice but to renege on its commitment to Somerdale".

    He said there was no way Kraft could have known about Cadbury's investment in Poland, as the information was not in the public domain and the two companies were not talking with each other during the hostile bid.

    The committee of MP's said they found it hard to believe that Kraft could not have known the full extent of Cadbury's investment in its new Polish factory.

    For once I actually agree with something an MP has said, surely if Trevor Bond, 'the ex-boss of Cadbury in the UK' is lining himself up for a nice well paid job with his new 'masters' HE would have known the amount of money spent & could have stopped Kraft from LYING to everybody.

    I think someone should be made to pay dearly for this, after all at the end of the day an apology doesn't compensate people for being sacked. then told that if the takeover is successful we will keep the factory open &you can keep your jobs - & then when the big company gets control of what they want they just dash the hopes of the people they made false promises to, knowing full well the only repercussions would be a slap on the wrist from some MP's. Maybe those MP's could find a way to negate the takeover due to a distinct lack of dishonesty. Or is that too simple a solution? If Kraft have to pay Cadbury back the money & all the resulting legal fees etc. maybe it might make them think twice about shutting the Keynsham factory. I think it's time to hit these big boys where it hurts.

 

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