Imperial to close nottingham plant with loss of 540 jobs

Imperial Tobacco is to close its Nottingham plant with the loss of 540 jobs

Imperial Tobacco has been accused of a cynical ploy in blaming new EU regulations for contributing to the closure of its plant in Nottingham.

In an announcement today, Imperial said declining volumes, new EU regulations and growth in illicit trade meant it would close its Nottingham plant and relocate production to other European countries. The closure, which will be completed by March 2016, will see the loss of 540 jobs and bring to an end production of Imperial Tobacco cigarettes in the UK.

A second plant in Nantes, France will also close, with the loss of 320 jobs.

In a statement, the Unite union said Imperial was cynically using the introduction of the EU Tobacco Products Directive to end sales of 10 packs of cigarettes and roll your own packs below 30g as an excuse to dump British workers in favour of cheaper 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, said Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy.

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.

But an Imperial Tobacco spokesman said The proposed factory closures reflect declining industry volumes in Europe, impacted by tough economic conditions, increasing regulation and excise, and growth in illicit trade.

In terms of regulation, the EUTPD will reduce the number of cigarette pack variations and further drive illicit trade to compound our already tough operating environment. The proposed closures are not, however, related to the ongoing plain packaging debate in the UK.

Consultation processes with workers and unions were underway, Imperial said.

This morning, Imperial Tobacco CEO Alison Cooper said in a statement 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.

Imperial said the Nottingham factory had the capacity to produce 36 billion cigarettes a year but was on course to turn out only 17 billion in 2014. The plant produces brands including Lambert & Butler, Richmond, Embassy No 1, Regal and Golden Virginia.

The company said the plant closures would help save 300m a year from September 2018 as part of a wider cost saving programme.

Imperial has 46 manufacturing sites in 28 countries, including the UK and France.

Updated at 17.35 with comment from an Imperial Tobacco spokesman.

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