Nestlé has announced that it is restructuring its UK confectionery business, a move that will see 645 job losses at the company’s Rowntree production facility in York as the site and the number of products manufactured there are streamlined.

The production of five chocolate products will be moved to other sites, the company said. The York factory will continue to produce chocolate bars including Aero, KitKat and Milky Bar.

“We have two brands being moved to other UK sites – Matchmakers and Drifter. The production of three brands is being moved outside the UK. Smarties are going to Germany, Black Magic assortments are going to the Czech Republic and Dairy Box production is being moved to Spain,” a spokesperson for the company told just-food.

The Swiss food company said that it will invest GBP20m (US$37.97m) in improving the facilities at York to safeguard the remaining 1,800 jobs there.

Paul Grimwood, managing director of Nestlé Rowntree, said in a statement: “These plans will streamline our operations, strengthen our competitive position, and establish our York factory as a state-of-the-art manufacturing site for the future, helping to safeguard long-term employment for over 1,800 of our employees in York.”

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However, the GMB trade union has said that the layoffs were a consequence of years of underinvestment in the facility. “Nestlé has underinvested in the factory for a number of years and is now using that as an excuse to move production overseas,” a GMB representative told just-food.

When confronted with these charges by just-food, Nestlé denied that it had failed to invest enough money in York.
“Over the past 20 years Nestlé has invested heavily in the York factory. It is because of that investment that we have leading production facilities on KitKat, Aero, Polo and chocolate making.  These factories and this investment will form the core of our new factory operations along with new buildings and new machinery from our GBP20m investment,” the company said.