The US food giant Kraft refused to rule out more UK redundancies during a grilling by MPs yesterday, only a year after it completed its £11.5bn takeover of Cadbury.
The House of Commons business select committee directed its early fire in the two-hour meeting at Marc Firestone, Kraft's corporate affairs and legal director, who was representing the company instead of chief executive Irene Rosenfeld.
Ms Rosenfeld snubbed the committee in May 2010, only three months after Kraft had acquired Cadbury.
MPs were furious she had decided again not to show up in London. She had also refused to be questioned by video link.
Labour MP Adrian Bailey said: "She [Ms Rosenfeld] alone has authority to speak on matters such as growth strategy, including whether factories should remain open. Why should she not be here?"
More specifically, the committee again questioned why Kraft had announced in February 2010 the closure of Cadbury's Somerdale factory in south-west England, with the loss of 400 jobs.
This was despite making overtures during the four-month takeover battle that it believed it could keep the facility open instead of moving production to Poland, a process that Cadbury had initially set in motion. At the previous business select committee hearing, Cadbury had given assurances it would not make any more manufacturing cuts in the UK for two years, but yesterday declined to extend the promise beyond May 2012.
Mr Firestone – who was joined at the hearing by Trevor Bond, the president of markets for Kraft Europe, and Nick Bunker, the head of its UK business – hit back by describing Ms Rosenfeld as a "remarkable executive of enormous talent", suggesting the line of questioning had taken a personal tone.
Kraft is currently recruiting for a large number of roles in the UK.
These include 50 at its global research and development centre in Bournville, Birmingham, and 60 in customer services, as well as a number of jobs in sales, for graduates and apprenticeships.