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Business secretary confirms government is in contact with Britvic and Unilever

PUBLISHED: 16:54 07 October 2017

Business Secretary Greg Clark has confirmed the government has been in contact with Britvic and Unilever

Business Secretary Greg Clark has confirmed the government has been in contact with Britvic and Unilever

PA Wire/PA Images

Business secretary Greg Clark has confirmed the government is in “close contact” with both Unilever and Britvic following the shock announcement the firms could quit Norwich.

The entrance to Colmans, Norwich.
Photo: Denise Bradley
Copy: EDP business
For: EDP business
Archant Norfolk pics © 2006
(01603) 772434 The entrance to Colmans, Norwich. Photo: Denise Bradley Copy: EDP business For: EDP business Archant Norfolk pics © 2006 (01603) 772434

Unilever is reviewing the production of its Colman’s Mustard – a world-famous brand linked with Norwich for more than 200 years.

The news came as Britvic said it was closing its plant in Bracondale which it co-owns with Unilever. If both firms left the city more than 300 jobs could be lost.

Mr Clark said: “Colman’s and Britvic are iconic British brands and ones that have a unique association with Norwich, with mustard production having taken place at the same factory since the 1860s.

“This is clearly a worrying and uncertain time for workers and their families, and the government is in close contact with both companies over future plans for the site in Norwich.”

Liz Truss, chief secretary to the treasury and MP for South West Norfolk, has added her name to the growing number of signatures demanding the brands and jobs stay in Norfolk as party of the EDP/Evening News campaign. She said: “Colman’s Mustard is an iconic product that has deep roots here in Norfolk and it would be a huge shame for it to move, I thin Unilever need to think again.”

And Norwich North MP Chloe Smith has spoken to Department for Work and Pensions ministers as well as ensuring resources are in place if the battle to keep the jobs in Norwich fails.

She has contacted Penny Mordaunt, minister for work, and Julia Nix, district manager of Jobcentre Plus. Ms Nix confirmed a “rapid response” service to help people find new work if they are made redundant is in place.

Ms Smith added: “These announcements are obviously very worrying for employees. First of all it is for the companies to look at every option to see if the jobs can be kept. I want to see good jobs like these stay in Norwich, at both Britvic and in the historic Colman’s factory. However, as additional reassurance I know constituents will find it helpful to see that support is available if redundancies are made.

“I stand ready to support my constituents in any way at this very anxious time.”

Almost 8,000 people have now signed our petition and backed the They Must Be Saved campaign.

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