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  1. ITV Report

What does 'hammer blow' decision by Britvic mean for Colman's of Norwich?

Britvic and Unilever, the makers of Colman's Mustard, share a site at Bracondale in Norwich. Credit: Press Association.

A union says it will "seek clarity" on the future of Colman's Mustard in Norwich this week - after Britvic confirmed it was closing its adjoining factory in the city.

The manufacturer of Robinsons and Fruit Shoot drinks co-owns the Carrow Works site with Unilever, which makes Colman's.

Yesterday (Friday), Britvic confirmed it would be moving its production out of Norfolk and over to its other factories in the UK. More than 200 people work for the company in Norwich.

Unite the Union described the decision as a "hammer blow" for workers and accused the company of trying to "bury bad news" by "sneaking out" the announcement in the lead up to Christmas.

Britvic revealed its plan to close the Norwich factory in October. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"This is a hammer blow for the dedicated workforce and their families, especially when it comes just before Christmas. It is bad news for the wider Norfolk economy, especially as we face challenging economic times in 2018.

"Unite will work tirelessly with all key stakeholders to see what can be done, even at this eleventh hour."

– Julia Long, Unite national officer.

When Britvic announced it was considering closing its half of the factory back in October, it prompted Unilever to admit it was also reviewing the future of its site - and the 200-year history of Colman's in Norwich.

It puts more than 100 other jobs at risk.

Unite said it understood Unilever was still carrying out its review - but pledged to find out more soon.

Britvic shared its Carrow Works site with Unilever, the manufacturer of Colman's Mustard. Credit: Press Association.

"We will be redoubling our efforts in the next week to get more clarity as to the future of the Unilever part of the site.

"The iconic Colman's Mustard has been produced at the same factory since the 1860s and Unite would strongly like that manufacturing tradition to continue."

– Rhys McCarthy, Unilever portfolio holder for Unite.

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis has been campaigning against the closure of both factories.

He called yesterday's announcement "a real kick in the teeth to the city of Norwich" - and claimed on Twitter workers had been told their jobs were going during Britvic's Christmas lunch.

"I am so, so sorry for all the Britvic employees and families who’ve just got the news that Britvic have decided to leave our city.

"The workers there will have felt that Britvic went into this process knowing full well which way it was going with this.

"It’s a real body blow for staff who have worked so hard and they have every right to feel hard done by.

"It’s an awful time of year for this to happen and they have to go back to their families knowing the company is leaving."

– Clive Lewis MP, Norwich South, Lab.

Britvic's chief executive insisted the decision had not been "made lightly" and said it was a "sad and difficult time".

But he claimed the move would lead to productivity and efficiency savings, as well as environmental benefits.

Colman's Mustard has been part of Norwich for more than 200 years. Credit: Press Association.

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