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Unilever's £40m investment creates new jobs at Port Sunlight
12:54pm Thursday 13th September 2012 in News
Unilever is to invest £40m into its Port Sunlight base creating jobs and securing the site’s future.
The investment will create around 150 new jobs at a new high-tech manufacturing facility for personal care products in the 120 acre site.
Brands brought into Unilever as a result of recent acquisitions of Sara Lee's personal care business and Alberto Culver, such as Radox and TRESemmé, will be transferred to Port Sunlight.
Alongside this, an IT centre will be set up in Lever House for which around 400 high-capability IT employees will relocate to Port Sunlight from Unilever’s existing technology centre in Ewloe - which is to close down.
The good news for Wirral is off-set by the announcment that more than 300 jobs are to be lost as Unilever closes three plants in Wales.
Factories at Swansea and Bridgend will shut by the end of 2013 with the loss of 250 jobs.
Ewloe in Flintshire will close by the end of 2014 with the loss of another 100 staff.
Shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith described the news as bitterly disappointing. He said: "The loss of 350 jobs in Wales would be a serious blow at any point in the economic cycle but in the middle of a double-dip recession, it will be felt particularly acutely."
Affected staff were told the news by company bosses on Thursday with consultations due to start with workers on Monday. The news confirms proposals that the company was planning to shut the sites.
However, the company says the new Wirral hub will also cement Unilever’s long-term commitment to the UK as a vital strategic centre in terms of research & development, manufacturing and business services.
Andy Stickland, works director for the North West, Unilever UK & Ireland, said: “Following an extensive review, today we have announced the go ahead for major investment into Port Sunlight, resulting in new jobs for the area and the creation of a strategic hub of global significance for Unilever.
“The new hub will bring together excellence in manufacturing and IT, alongside our global R&D lab and we’re very excited about seeing the site grow and take shape over the coming months.”
“We are also announcing today that a third-party facility in Deeside in North Wales will serve as the distribution centre for the new Port Sunlight factory. This will result in the creation of around 50 new jobs in Deeside.
“In total, we anticipate that these changes will result in a net reduction of around 500 Unilever roles in the UK and the loss of around 300 associated contractor and third-party roles.”