FrieslandCampina is to close two of its cheese facilities with the loss of 159 jobs

FrieslandCampina is to close two of its cheese facilities with the loss of 159 jobs

Dairy giant FrieslandCampina is to close two of its cheese facilities in the Netherlands, the company's latest measure to restructure its manufacturing network.

The Dutch dairy processor has, in recent months, announced a series of closures as it looks to reshape a business formed by the 2008 merger between Friesland Foods and Campina.

The latest moves, announced today (24 November), will involve the closure of the firm's cheese plants in the Dutch towns of Varsseveld and Leerbroek. 

FrieslandCampina will also reduce staff numbers at its Marum and Gerkesklooster facilities, which will remain open but will be revamped to improve efficiency. A total of 159 jobs will be lost, although the company said 52 posts would be created.

Around 65 jobs will be lost at the Varsseveld plant, which is scheduled to close during the fourth quarter of 2012. As a result, FrieslandCampina said it will invest EUR31m (US$41.4m) to expand production capacity at its production plant in Workum, increasing staff numbers by 21. The expansion will be completed by the third quarter of 2012.

Closure of the firm's cheese ripening and packaging plant at Leerbroek will involve the loss of all 24 jobs. The cheese ripening activities will be relocated to Gerkesklooster where the firm intends to invest EUR530,000 and the cheese packaging activities will move to Leerdam.

In addition, FrieslandCampina said it will invest EUR12m in the automation of production and ripening of Edam cheese at its production plant in Marum, resulting in a reduction in staff from 66 to 23.

Around EUR3.8m will also be invested in expanding production capacity at its plant in Balkbrug increasing staff numbers to around 111.

Piet Hilarides, COO for cheese and butter at FrieslandCampina, said: "The purpose of these measures is to further strengthen our international competitive position in cheese. Cost reductions through economies of scale and efficiency improvements are an essential part of our strategy route2020. Regrettably, this will have consequences for a number of employees. We will do our utmost to help those affected to find new positions, either within FrieslandCampina or elsewhere."

In 2009, FrieslandCampina closed a plant in Oud Gastel, with the loss of 105 jobs.

Last July, the company sold its long-life dairy drink brands Yogho Yogho and Choco Choco brands to Belgian dairy co-op Inza in July and in December announced plans to close a further six plants.