Imperial tobacco blames smuggling and high taxes for 900 lost jobs

Chief executive Alison Cooper regrets that so many jobs were lost PH

Imperial Tobacco is to close its last UK plant in Nottingham which can trace its roots to 1877 when John Player bought a site.

It will also shut another in Nantes, France, where it employs 320, and in total up to 900 jobs will be lost across the group.

The FTSE 100 company said the closures reflected falling industry output in Europe blamed on tough economic conditions, increasing regulation, higher taxes and the growth in smuggling.

Imperial said the moves were necessary to strengthen its competitive position.

The Bristol based firm, which employs 1,700 people in the UK, said the Nottingham and Nantes sites were running at less than half their full manufacturing capacity.

It said Nottingham, which makes brands including JPS, Regal, Embassy No1, Lambert & Butler and Golden Virginia, was capable of making 36 billion cigarettes a year but would produce only 17 billion this year.

Chief executive Alison Cooper said that the restructuring plans were part of a drive to save f300million a year from 2018.

The prospect of job losses is always regrettable and we will be doing all we can to support employees

Chief executive Alison Cooper

She added «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, which has been at its current site in Nottingham since 1972, said closure would take two years and it would redeploy staff where possible.

Production will be shifted to other European factories and distribution will be outsourced.

The company, which has 46 manufacturing sites worldwide and a workforce of 35,000, makes other brands including Davidoff and Gauloises.

Its shares rose 7p to 2481p.

Trade union Unite said it had been expecting a small number of job cuts but not wholesale closure.

A spokesman said «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.

«Consumers need to know that a major UK company is selling out its UK workers, so that its leading UK brands can be made in Eastern Europe and then shipped back.»

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