Unilever site closures to eliminate hundreds of jobs

Hundreds of jobs are set to be lost at consumer goods giant Unilever under plans to close a number of sites, although its biggest factory will receive a £40m investment boost.

Proposals would see the closure of factories in Swansea and Slough and a distribution site in Bridgend, while an office Ewloe, North Wales would also close and work be transferred.

The changes, to take effect by the end of 2013, could lead to 500 direct job losses and around 300 contractor and third-party posts, while some jobs will also be outsourced to Unilever's IT centre in Bangalore, India.

The news was described as a "devastating blow" to workers affected by the closures.

Unilever said it planned to invest £40m in its "historic home" of Port Sunlight, Wirral on Merseyside, with the creation of 150 new jobs.

Work would transfer from Ewloe to Port Sunlight, where the workforce would increase from the current 1,500 to 2,000.

Reviews of the proposals are expected to be concluded in the autumn, with a final decision taken in September.

Amanda Sourry, chairman of Unilever UK and Ireland, said: "Like many companies today, Unilever faces the challenge of creating growth opportunities against a backdrop of very tough economic conditions in Europe.

"While Unilever is growing well in the UK and globally, it will always be necessary to make changes which raise our game and ensure our continued success. We believe these proposals would substantially strengthen our platform for long-term growth and competitiveness.

"We understand that this period of uncertainty will cause concern for some of our employees who would be affected if changes were to be made, so we are fully committed to conducting all review and consultation processes properly and responsibly."

The company plans to "transform" Port Sunlight into a "significant centre of excellence" for the manufacture of shampoo and shower gel

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