Cadbury Schweppes, the world's largest confectioner, has insisted it is "pleased" with its performance in the UK and shrugged off renewed criticism of its planned cuts in the country.

UK trade unions have hit out at Cadbury after an internal company memo was leaked that praised rising sales just weeks after the confectionery giant outlined plans to cut 700 jobs.

A report in UK newspaper The Mail on Sunday said the email had pointed to a rise in sales after an advertising push this autumn. The email is also reported to point to a week in October when sales jumped 15%.

In October, the confectioner announced plans to close its Keynsham chocolate factory by 2010, a move that will affect 500 employees. A further 200 jobs at its flagship Bournville site will also be transferred to Poland.

A spokesman for Cadbury admitted the company had given a "regular update" to its senior staff but that the e-mail did not contain sales data.

"We are a successful confectionery company, a successful British confectionery company, and we want to remain so," the spokesman told just-food. "We are taking those difficult decisions to remain a successful British chocolate manufacturer."

The spokesman brushed off claims that the leaked e-mail reflected badly on Cadbury when it was cutting jobs. "We have announced a massive GBP40m investment to secure long-term manufacturing at Bournville," he said.

The Unite trade union said it was "bemused" by the email, which had first come to light when officials met with Cadbury for "consultation" talks last week.

"We are absolutely bemused," Unite regional officer Steve Preddy told just-food. "We raised the email in the consultation meeting and [Cadbury's] attitude was: 'Why should we apologise for our success?'"

Preddy was among workers and union officials who traveled to Cadbury's flagship Bournville site today (3 December) to protest against the company's plans.

Preddy said Cadbury had refused to meet with the protestors. Consultation between the two sides will continue until January, he said, when workers could strike if its demand were not met.

"If at the end of the consultation period, we are still not being listened to, we would not rule out industrial action," Preddy said.

Cadbury flagged plans to streamline its business worldwide in June in a bid to boost margins. Cadbury said it would axe 15% of its workforce as part of a global cost-cutting drive that it hopes will reshape the business.

The company also plans to close 15% of its manufacturing facilities around the world over the next four years.