Nestle (NESN.S) is shutting a factory in the north east of England, putting nearly 600 jobs at risk, as the world’s biggest packed food company restructures its confectionery business in Britain.
The move comes as the maker of KitKat shifts production to two other factories in York and Halifax, where it has invested 29.4 million pounds ($40.8 million). The site in Fawdon will close by 2023.
“The decision to propose Fawdon’s closure follows significant investment and a sustained effort by the factory team to reduce that complexity and introduce new products in recent years,” Nestle’s UK arm said in a statement on Wednesday.
Up to 573 jobs could be lost at Fawdon, the company said. Nestle’s factories in York and Halifax manufacture some of the chocolate maker’s biggest brands. York is also the base for Nestle Confectionery’s global R&D centre.
Labour union GMB said it would ask for an “urgent meeting” with Nestle’s management to understand why these decisions were taken, adding that a second union, Unite, would also be teaming up with it to campaign against these moves.
“The fact these announcements have come during a global pandemic is particularly bitter and heartless,” said Unite’s Joe Clarke.
Nestle said it did not “underestimate the impact” the closure could have in the area and on its employees, and would find ways to support them during its consultation process if the closure was approved.
($1 = 0.7203 pounds)