Drinks company Britvic has announced that it will be pulling out of Norwich, with the loss of 242 jobs.
Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis issued a statement on the company’s decision via Facebook:
I am so, so sorry for all the Britvic employees and families who’ve just got the news that Britvic have decided to leave our city.
It’s a real kick in the teeth to the city of Norwich. The workers there will have felt that Britvic went into this process knowing full well which way it was going with this.
It’s a real body blow for staff who have worked so hard and they have every right to feel hard done by.
It’s an awful time of year for this to happen and they have to go back to their families knowing the company is leaving.
There are of course knock-on effects for Colman’s too, which remain to be seen. This city and generations of families have contributed to making the brand what it is.
I know that at least one trade union for the site is deeply unhappy with the way that the consultation preceding closure was conducted. I am working with that union to try and get some kind of more positive outcome from all of this for employees.
However, Lewis later discovered further alleged details that would certainly amplify the workers’ feelings of grievance and public perception of the company’s callousness:
If Lewis’ reports are correct, then Britvic has added insult to injury by not only informing them of the loss of their jobs just before Christmas – a hideous time for anyone to be given such news – but telling them over their Christmas lunch.
As PR disasters go, it’s right up there – but for the devastated workers that will be no consolation.
There are darker rumblings as well because of a connection between Britvic and the housebuilding company that could potentially benefit from the sudden availability of a substantial piece of land, which is in short supply in the city:
As the tweet Lewis was quoting points out, Persimmon Homes is at the centre of a controversy after its Chair and remuneration quit over a pay scheme that would result in the company’s chief executive receiving a pay packet of over £100 million – and a total of over £200 million shared among just three executives.
The decision of Britvic’s CEO to join the board of Persimmon earlier this year rings what Lewis has called ‘alarm bells’ about the possible serious conflict of interest.
For now though, what’s clear is that Britvic’s decision is a heavy blow to the city’s people and economy – and the way in which it is alleged to have been communicated to staff is crass in the extreme.
It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the company’s sales and profits, if the public becomes aware of its decision and the circumstances around it.
Britvic was contacted for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.
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