Unilever to axe jobs and close factories but still puts £40m into main site

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 in 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 be outsourced to Unilever's IT centre in Bangalore, India.

The news was described as a "devastating blow".

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

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

A final decision is expected to be taken in September.

Unilever has a workforce of around 7,200 and makes products ranging from Marmite and PG Tips to Persil and Domestos.