The UK-based group sees this programme of increasing efficiency as inevitable. The firm says that more than £30 million (€42.9m) has been invested at Bournville and Somerdale over the past two years, and that the next two years will see further investment in new technology and skills development.
This strategy, says Cadbury, will enable the Trebor Bassett confectionery business to maintain competitiveness in the face of increasing competition in the UK market. The company plans to hold discussions with its workforce soon.
The rationalisation of both plants is broadly in line with the group's overall business strategy. Cadbury has called 2003 a transitional year, with results affected by ongoing restructuring and tough trading conditions in a number of markets. First half sales for example, announced in July, were 15 per cent higher than the previous year at £2.7 billion, helped by acquisitions, but restructuring costs and currency effects took their toll on operating profits, which dropped 5 per cent to £366 million and pre-tax profits, which were 16 per cent lower at £294 million.
Any job losses at the Bournville and Somerdale plants will represent but a fraction of the ongoing restructuring of the company. Some 5,500 jobs in total are expected to be axed by Cadbury Schweppes over the next four years.