Production of iconic Somerset cider brands ceased production this week at the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill, as Unite, the country’s largest union, reiterated its call today (Friday 1 April) for the Irish owners to urgently find a buyer for the site.
The Dublin-based C&C Group has now stopped the production of the Somerset ciders Addlestones, Blackthorn, Natch and Olde English. Production will now be at Clonmel in the Irish Republic.
Unite regional coordinating officer Steve Preddy said: “The last batch of these ciders has been made this week. The last sugars and yeast have been added to the cider fermentation as the company appears hell-bent on shutting down this profitable mill.
“We fear famous Somerset ciders with names such as Dry Blackthorn could be lost forever with 120 dedicated workers losing their jobs and a 246-year-old cider-making heritage in the town disappearing forever.
“The closure is completely unnecessary as C&C Group has a company-wide profit forecast of €103 million – that’s about £81 million at today’s exchange rate.
“Again, Unite urges the company to find a buyer for both the site and the brand, as that combination will make the cider mill an even more attractive prospect for a potential buyer.
“What is happening at Shepton Mallet is economic vandalism by a multi-national that cares not one jot for its hardworking employees. This threatened closure will devastate a long-established community built up around cider-making.”
A recent trading update from the company expected the operating profit across its operations for the 12 months to 29 February 2016 to be in the region of €103 million. Trading in the last quarter provides ‘grounds for optimism’. Results for the year will be announced on 11 May.
The cider mill is due to close in the summer when production ceases and the pulped fruit is transported to Ireland – the first 40 redundancies have already been announced.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact: Unite regional coordinating officer Steve Preddy on 07764 467443
Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.