Bristol-based tobacco giant imperial tobacco to close last uk factory

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BRISTOL firm Imperial Tobacco is to close its last remaining UK factory. The world’s fourth largest tobacco company blamed the closure on falling demand for products and the growth of the black market in the UK and Europe.

At one stage, the firm, which employs around 600 people at its new headquarters in Ashton Vale, was one of Bristol’s largest employers.

But it closed its last factory in the city in 2010 and yesterday’s announcement that it is to shut its production plant and distribution centre in Nottingham means it will not produce cigarettes and cigars in the UK for the first time in its history. The Nottingham base employs around 540 people, almost a third of Imperial’s UK workforce.

The firm issued a statement that blamed the decision on «declining industry volumes in Europe, impacted by tough economic conditions, increasing regulation and excise, and growth in illicit trade».

Imperial, whose brands include Golden Virginia and Lambert & Butler, said production would be moved to other European factories and distribution farmed out to specialist firms.

Chief executive Alison Cooper said «These projects are an essential part of securing the sustainable future of the business.

«The prospect of job losses is always regrettable and we will be doing all we can to support employees and ensure that they are treated in a fair and responsible manner.»

But the Unite union has criticised the move, pointing to the company’s huge profits last year.

Unite officer Rhys McCarthy said «This is shocking news that will have a devastating impact on not only hundreds of workers and their families, but also on the local community.

«We will be giving full support to our members over the next two years before the site closes at the latest in March 2016. What we were not expecting was the wholesale closure of the Nottingham site and an end to Imperial Tobacco manufacturing cigarettes in the UK and moving production to eastern Europe.»

He added «We believe that Imperial Tobacco is cynically using the EU directive as cover to dump on UK workers and ship production to low cost workers in eastern Europe.

«The company has callously decided to dump its UK workers and the only people who will be benefiting from this move are the shareholders and executive directors who will trouser even more money from this cost cutting exercise once the dust has settled.

«It’s another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing and a loss of revenue for the exchequer. Well paid skilled jobs for ordinary working people are once again under threat. We will fight this closure and will be urgently seeking meetings with the company.»

Imperial Tobacco has a total of 46 manufacturing sites worldwide.

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