Unilever invests in technology, cuts staff

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Unilever, Investment

As part of a global reorganisation of its business, Unilever will
begin investing in new technology at its UK sites, resulting in
staff cuts.

Over the next 12 months the company said it would invest £30m (€43m) in improving the technological capability at plants throughout the UK. The company plans to invest £18m to improve technology and cost effectiveness at its Burton, Port Sunlight and Warrington plants. Burton produces foods, while the other two plants manufacture laundry detergents and bleach. About 315 staff working at the three sites will be cut from the operations. Due to the changes, Unilever will also transfer some technologies to its supply network at Gloucester, Norwich and Trafford Park, creating 15 new positions. Trafford Park, Unilever's tea production site, will boost production, creating about 40 new staff positions, the company said in a statement. The company has also reviewed its ice cream distribution requirements in the UK and has entered negotiations with third parties to build a new automated warehouse at the Gloucester site. The company is also reviewing its Purfleet, Leeds and Crumlin sites. At Unilever's spreads production site at Purfleet, a review currently underway will be widened to include the wider issue of cost competitiveness and of technological capability, the company stated. Unilever wants to ensure that Purfleet remains a key part of its manufacturing network. At Crumlin, where the company makes its Pot Noodle brand, Unilever is reviewing the competitiveness and profitability of the business. At Leeds, the company is investing a further £10m to support what it says is the success of its deodorants business and to develop a "world class" aerosol capability. At the same time the factory will review overall cost competitiveness and explore future scenarios for the production of roll ons in Leeds, a company spokesperson stated. All three factory reviews are expected to be completed by April 2008. The company said it has made "significant improvements" to the business worldwide over the past two years, including the launch of its "One Unilever" programme. Under the programme the group plans to cut €1.5bn out of its costs throughout its global operations. The plan includes focusing on a more narrow range of products, both in the food, and home and personal care divisions. The proposed changes announced in the UK "reflect the opportunities Unilever sees to go further and faster in increasing supply chain efficiency and responsiveness and to really accelerate the transformation of the UK business", the company stated. Unilever's European workforce is bearing the brunt of the company's proposed 20,000 job cuts worldwide over the next four years. About 10,000 to 12,000 job reductions will occur at the company's European operations. The cuts will include workforce reductions resulting from divestments of the group's operations, according to a company spokesperson.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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