Coca-Cola European Partners have announced that they are planning to close two of their sites in the UK.
This will cause an immediate loss of employment for hundreds of people if the sites are not bought by rival companies.
Imminent closure decision.
The iconic drinks company has decided to close down two sites in the UK. They are the manufacturing site in Milton Keynes, and the distribution centre in Northampton.
Previously, the Milton Keynes site produced around one-third of the canned output for the European arm of Cocoa-Cola. Should the proposals go ahead as planned, there are 288 food jobs at risk, with the closure scheduled for 2019.
The reason behind the closure is, of course, in order to improve productions overall for the company. With productivity and efficiency in mind, they have evidently determined that these two sites are no longer useful in their overall manufacturing plan.
In 2015, the Milton Keynes site was actually head of the Coca-Cola growth portfolio. It was producing Monster, Capri-Sun, Coca-Cola Life, and other brands. With nine lines in total producing the items, there were also two canning lines, five pouch lines for the Capri-Sun products, and two bag in box lines. It was the only one of their sites that operated 24 hours a day.
The site has been in business for more than 40 years, and some of the lines inside the facility are actually more than 20 years old. This may be part of the reason why Coca-Cola have decided to move on rather than invest in refurbishment, despite the fact that it had been so successful only a few years ago.
Job loss, job creation
As it stands, there will be 288 food manufacturing jobs and other positions lost when the two sites are closed for good. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
In the first instance, should a rival company purchase either of the sites, there may be a possibility for the jobs to be kept and even expanded when new changes are made to bring the facilities up to scratch. Secondly, Coca-Cola still need to produce their brands, even if they are no longer doing it at those facilities. The hope is that they will transferring their production and warehousing needs to other sites in the UK.
The company has said that their current plans will also involve expansion of their current manufacturing and distribution networks. This could create 121 new roles, and will give some employees the chance to continue with the company at another of their sites.
“We know today’s news will be upsetting for our people at these sites, and our immediate priority is to support them throughout the consultation process,” said a statement from Coca-Cola. “We are proud of our long-standing links with both towns and have not made these proposals lightly.”
It remains to be seen which sites will be chosen for new development as a result of the closures, and how close they will be to the facilities which are closed. They have also not yet confirmed the precise closing date for either of the plants.
Either way, this is a big shift and will leave many food industry employees without anywhere to go. The hope is that with either the purchase of the sites, or timely expansion of existing companies in the local area, the jobs can be kept within the local community rather than forcing people to move away from their homes.
It’s a huge decision and has made waves across the food industry since the announcement. Big things are clearly ahead for Coca-Cola.