Nestle is to close a confectionery production plant in the UK as part of plans to merge its manufacturing of "seasonal" products in the country into one site.

The Swiss food giant said today (10 December) it is planning to close its plant in Castleford in 2012.

The Castleford site makes After Eight boxed chocolates and the non-seasonal Toffee Crisp brand. Nestle plans to switch the "majority" of the After Eight production to its site in Halifax, 23 miles west of Castleford. 

Nestle said its seasonal confectionery production at Castleford and Halifax was being run out of the latter plant. The company insisted the business could "operate more efficiently" from a single site.

A "small proportion" of After Eight production for export markets will move to a site in the German city of Hamburg, Nestle said.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing of Toffee Crisp will move to another UK plant in Fawdon, 11 miles north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

David Rennie, MD for Nestle's confectionery business in the UK, said: "Nestle Confectionery is performing well in a very tough market but we have to continue to operate as efficiently as possible to remain competitive.

"We are sharing this proposal with our employees in Castleford at the earliest opportunity. Our aim is to offer our people alternative jobs with Nestle and we hope that as many of them as possible will stay with the company."

Nestle employs 210 staff at Castleford and said the transfer of production to Halifax and Fawdon would create 120 jobs. The Kit Kat maker said it was also creating over 100 new posts at its confectionery sites in the next two years.

Union officials called Nestle's proposals a "body blow" for Castleford and said there was "plenty of scope" for staff to be redeployed.

Unite union regional officer John Mallinder said: "Unite has two goals and these are to see that production of the plant remains in the UK, thereby safeguarding jobs; and that the Castleford workforce is redeployed to Nestle’s Halifax plant 10 miles away."