Union fury as Chewits jobs shipped to Eastern Europe

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The Independent Online

Unions questioned yesterday the motives for the latest job losses set to hit the British confectionery industry.

Leaf UK plans to shut its factory at Southport, Merseyside, where Chewits sweets are made, with the loss of up to 124 jobs.

Those jobs will be shipped to Eastern Europe, despite assurances by the Dutch-based parent company, Leaf International, that it wants to build its presence in the sweets market in the UK.

A spokesman for the T&G union, which represents most of those whose jobs are at risk, said: "They said in a presentation earlier this week that they want to consolidate their presence here. How that translates into shifting manufacturing outside the UK is frankly beyond us.

"We suspect there are other reasons, not least of which may be the land on which the Southport factory stands, could be worth a fortune."

The company, owned by the private-equity group CVC, said costs must be cut to allow reinvestment in the brand.

Separately, 197 jobs are to go by the end of today at Golden Wonder's crisps plant at Corby in Northamptonshire, as production of most of its own-label and Golden Lights crisps is shifted to Scunthorpe, north Lincolnshire.

Golden Wonder slipped into administration on 9 January, blaming falling sales and cut-throat competition in a crisps market increasingly dominated by Walkers.

The Corby factory was sold to CTO Holdings, an affiliate of the Irish crisps group Tayto as part of the sale of Mini Pringles a few days later.