January 4, 2018 / 3:57 PM / 2 years ago

Unilever to close UK Colman's mustard factory

A boy fishes in a river behind the Unilever Colman's mustard factory in Norwich, Britain January 6, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Staples

LONDON (Reuters) - Unilever (ULVR.L)UNc.AS plans to close its Colman’s mustard factory in the English city of Norwich next year, after more than 160 years, affecting 113 jobs.

Production of the condiment will likely start to be transferred this year to other British sites including Burton upon Trent, where Marmite and Bovril are made, with some packing moving to Germany, the company said on Thursday.

The decision follows a review launched in October when UK soft drink maker Britvic (BVIC.L) announced the closure of its Norwich factory, on a site co-owned with Unilever.

Britvic’s decision had “serious implications” for Unilever, a company spokeswoman said in a statement.

About 40 of the jobs will transfer to Burton, while 25 will be created in Norwich by a new facility for production and packing of Colman’s mustard powder, mustard milling and mint processing, Unilever said. The company will also continue to source its mint and mustard locally, it said.

The move comes as British businesses prepare for the country’s exit from the European Union, and as Unilever also reviews its dual-headed Anglo-Dutch structure.

“The government is disappointed Unilever has decided to close its Norwich plant, though we welcome Unilever’s commitment to mustard milling and mint production in Norwich,” a spokesman for the British government said, adding that it will work closely with the company, local government officials and unions throughout the consultation period.

Jeremiah Colman began selling mustard near Norwich in 1814. His great-nephew Jeremiah James Colman established the factory there in 1858. Unilever acquired the business in 1995 from what is now Reckitt Benckiser (RB.L).

Reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by David Evans and Adrian Croft

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