Nestle is streamlining its research and development operations for confectionery products with plans to consolidate those activities in the city of York in northern England.
The decision is intended to “improve speed and agility of innovation on a global scale”, the Swiss food giant said in a statement.
Its existing R&D facility in Broc, Switzerland – Nestle’s “chocolate centre of excellence” – will be changed into a technical unit to support the company’s chocolate business in Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa, the company said.
“As from 1 May 2018, the Product Technology Centre for Confectionery in York, England, will lead all confectionery-related R&D activities, leveraging the recognised expertise of its scientists, engineers and product developers,” Nestle said.
“This project reflects the increased importance and focus we are giving to the tablet and premium chocolate market that is gaining popularity across the globe.”
The reshuffle could result in potential job losses. A Nestle spokesperson told just-food today (19 January) that the Broc site currently employs 27 people, some of whom will be offered positions within the group and other operations at the chocolate centre of excellence.
“For the remaining employees – six in total – we are looking at every situation individually to see, among other solutions, if perhaps new employment opportunities arise in the group, the spokesperson added. “We have engaged with all employees concerned on the changes and will continue to closely offer support and advice.”
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The move follows an announcement in April last year of a restructuring in the UK taking in four confectionery plants, in a move designed to make the sites “operate more efficiently and remain competitive in a rapidly changing external environment”. Nestle said then that 298 jobs could go as the company planned to relocate its UK-centric Blue Riband biscuit brand from one of the sites to Poland.
The announcement comes just days after Nestle confirmed a deal with Italian candy maker Ferrero to sell its confectionery business in the US for CHF2.8bn (US$2.9bn), a transaction that is expected to be completed by the end of the current quarter.
Nestle said it “remains fully committed” to growing its international confectionery operations around the world, “particularly its global brand KitKat”.