1. ITV Report

230 jobs to go at Chelmsford drinks factory

Robinson's squash maker Britvic is to close its factory in Essex where it was founded in the 19th century under plans to axe up to 400 jobs.

The group is cutting its ties with Chelmsford, where it was founded by a Victorian chemist making soft drinks, by closing a Fruit Shoot and J20 fruit drinks factory with about 230 job losses.

Britvic products Credit: ITV News Anglia

It is also shutting its Pennine Spring water factory in Huddersfield with 40 job losses and closing a warehouse in Belfast employing 20 staff under the plans to merge its UK and Irish operations - which will result in 300-400 job losses.

We regret the potential loss of jobs caused by the change and are committed to supporting affected employees.

– Simon Litherland, Chief Executive

The soft drinks giant announced cost cuts totalling £30 million over three years as it reported a 50% surge in pre-tax profits to £37.5 million for the 28 weeks to mid-April.

It said the cuts aim to improve returns for shareholders and comes ahead of a Competition Commission decision on its merger with Irn-Bru owner AG Barr, expected by July. It will then decide whether to go ahead with the deal.

Britvic last year moved its headquarters from Chelmsford to Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire and said remaining office staff will transfer to its new site, ending about 150 years' association with the city.

Britvic, which takes its name from its predecessor the British Vitamin Products Company, has started a consultation with staff and the sites will close in the first quarter of next year.

The Chelmsford factory was built in 1954 and makes soft drinks in cans, glass and plastic bottles. Work will transfer from there to other sites in the UK, Ireland and France. It also has major operations in east London, Norwich and Leeds.