Chelmsford: Britvic Closing Factory

Britvic is to close its factory in Essex where it was founded in the 19th century under plans to cut around 400 jobs.

The group is cutting its ties with Chelmsford, where it was founded by a Victorian chemist making soft drinks, by closing a Fruit Shoot and J20 fruit drinks factory with about 230 job losses.

It is also shutting its Pennine Spring water factory in Huddersfield with 40 job losses and closing a warehouse in Belfast employing 20 staff under the plans to merge its UK and Irish operations - which will result in 300-400 job losses.

The soft drinks giant announced cost cuts totalling £30 million over three years as it reported a 50% surge in pre-tax profits to #37.5 million for the 28 weeks to mid-April.

It said the cuts aim to improve returns for shareholders and comes ahead of a Competition Commission decision on its merger with Irn-Bru owner AG Barr, expected by July. It will then decide whether to go ahead with the deal.

Britvic last year moved its headquarters from Chelmsford to Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire and said remaining office staff will transfer to its new site, ending about 150 years' association with the city.

Clive Hooper, Supply Chain Director at Britvic, commented: "The decision to close two of our production facilities was clearly a difficult one to take. However, these proposed changes are needed to make us more efficient and competitive so that we can protect the long-term future of our business. 

"Throughout the next couple of months, we will be consulting with our Chelmsford based employees. If the closures go ahead, it is our absolute ambition to minimise job losses, and we will support affected employees as much as needed.

"We have a good track record of employees already moving from Chelmsford to our new head office in Hemel Hempstead, and we hope that many of our office based employees will now make the move."