Port Sunlight is celebrating 125 years. A festival will be held this weekend in honour of the global household goods and food manufacturer Unilever's milestone.
William Hesketh Lever originally set up business in Warrington in 1884, making Sunlight soap before expanding to produce some of the worlds biggest brands including PG Tips and Persil. Lord Lever 64 acres at Port Sunlight into a factory surrounded by a village for it's workers.
Today the grade II listed building still remains. At it's height there were 8000 employees at the site today there are 900 staff.
There are also proposals for a £40m production plant at Port Sunlight.
"This announcement is potentially fantastic news for Unilever Port Sunlight and Wirral and we will do all we can to support the company throughout their consultation process.
"We are tremendously proud of the quality of work that takes place at Port Sunlight and the relationship that has developed between Unilever and the village.
"The company'?s contribution to the culture, heritage and economy of Wirral is massive and I am pleased that a global company like Unilever continues to have confidence in Port Sunlight as a significant base for its operations.?"
Unite, which represents some Unilever staff, says it is assessing the impact of today's Unilever announcement.
The firm said it is planning to close plants in Wales and Slough - but invest £40m at its Port Sunlight factory on the Wirral.
“Unilever’s announcement is a long and complex one and we will be assessing the long-term impact for our members over the next few days.
“We have a meeting with senior management later this month and our prime concern is to ensure that there are no compulsory redundancies in the areas where we are represented.
“While we have no recognition in the plants in South Wales and Slough, we appreciate that this is a devastating blow to the workforces involved and the local economies, especially in South Wales which has been particularly hard hit by the recession.
“We have about 50 members at the Swansea site and we will be doing everything in our power to support those members at this very difficult time.
“The investment in the Port Sunlight plant is to be welcomed, but we need to study the statement and meet with management to see what it may mean in terms of increased employment opportunities in the future.”
– Jennie Formby, Unite’s national officer for food and drink
Unilever said its plans would "transform" Port Sunlight into a "significant centre of excellence" for the manufacture of shampoo and shower gel products, with growth potential for the next decade.
"There are two key drivers of today's proposals. The first is the company's strategy of making big acquisitions in key product areas to drive future growth, such as the purchase of Sara Lee's personal care business and Alberto Culver in 2010 and 2011 respectively, and then integrating them quickly into the business to maximise the potential of these new brands.
"The second is Unilever's focus on continuously improving how it is organised to fuel growth, including making the most of its global scale through the creation of fewer, bigger, better hubs for manufacturing and business services, and ensuring it is fit to adapt rapidly and efficiently to the ever-changing preferences of its consumers and customers.
"The proposed changes announced today both reflect this strategy and would substantially strengthen the company's platform for long-term competitive growth. They also demonstrate Unilever's long-term commitment to the UK as a key global location in terms of manufacturing, business services and as the home of its global headquarters."