UK trade unions have hit out at Cadbury Schweppes 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 TV push has helped Cadbury take market share from arch-rival Mars, the email said, according to the report. The email is also reported to point to a week in October when sales jumped 15%.

The confectioner 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.

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.

Officials at Cadbury could not be reached for immediate comment.

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.

Cadbury has defended its cuts at Keynsham and Bournville, insisting that the restructuring would see the Bournville facility get some GBP40m (US$82.5m) of investment as chocolate production switches from Keynsham to the Midlands site.