Britvic and Unilever Norwich factory closures: What we know so far

PUBLISHED: 15:38 05 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:15 05 October 2017

Entrance to the Norwich Britvic factory.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Entrance to the Norwich Britvic factory. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

It has been two days since the news broke that two historic Norwich factories could shut their doors.

Since then MPs, union leaders and business figures have expressed solidarity with the hundreds of Britvic and Unilever staff who risk losing their jobs.

Meanwhile more than 6,400 people have signed up to support our campaign to keep the companies, and with them the production of Robinsons squash and Colman’s Mustard, in the city.

Here’s how the events have unfolded:

At 7.15am on Tuesday, October 3, Britvic releases a statement announcing plans to close its factory in Norwich and move production to other facilities around the UK, hitting 242 jobs.

Later that morning Unilever, the maker of Colman’s Mustard, announces it is considering its own future at the site on Bracondale, which it co-owns with the soft drinks giant and where it employs 113 people.

Unite the union hits back, saying Colman’s is “in the DNA of the city” and that it will apply pressure to ensure “the production and the much-needed jobs that are vital for the Norwich economy remain”.

The GMB union, which has over 150 members at the Britvic plant, says the proposed closure is “not just a blow for Norwich but Norfolk manufacturing in general” and pledges to mitigate its effects.

The Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News launch a petition, They Must Be Saved, to keep both factories open, which gains 5,000 signatures in its first day.

Business and local authority leaders express their support for factory workers, with many stating the importance of keeping the jobs – and the Colman’s and Robinsons brands – in Norwich.

Clive Lewis pledges to support the factories’ workers and says the government “cannot wash its hands” of the situation. On Wednesday morning he meets with union representatives at the factory gates.

On Wednesday evening council bosses say they could consider a rescue deal to safeguard jobs at the factories, while the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) says all options are still on the table.

On Thursday calls are made for Norfolk’s 84 county councillors to back the EDP/Evening News campaign. A motion is tabled to discuss it at the council’s next meeting.

End of November 2017: The date Unilever expects to conclude its review of its Norwich facility – this will consider expanding operations, selling part of the site, and closure.

2019: The date Britvic’s Norwich plant will close, subject to the outcome of a 45-day consultation with workers.

READ MORE: A history of Carrow Works factories as companies consider moving from Norwich

READ MORE: What could the future hold for Colman’s and Britvic’s Norwich factory site?

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