Swansea Council leader makes personal plea for U-turn on Unilever factory closure
SWANSEA Council has urged Unilever to rethink plans to close its factory in the city with the loss of 225 jobs.
The household goods giant wants to close the former Alberto Culver site on Swansea Enterprise Park by the end of next year and invest £40 million in Port Sunlight in Merseyside.
Welsh Government Business Minister and Gower AM Edwina Hart has already pledged to try to ensure "the best outcome" for workers, and now the leader of Swansea Council David Phillips has written to the company urging it to keep the site open.
He said its plans to close the factory had come as a surprise given his understanding that the plant had remained profitable during the global recession.
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In his letter Mr Phillips said: "The previous acquisition of Alberto by Unilever was met locally with an expectation of even further success for the plant and renewed sustainability of local jobs, given Unilever's multinational presence and strength of its global brand.
"I can only, therefore, assume that the proposal for closure is based on a need for corporate restructuring and cost reduction across the organisation, rather than productivity of the Swansea plant and its loyal workforce.
"As such we would wish and urge you to retain the company in the area as it is an important component of the city's manufacturing capability and has had public sector support previously to develop the business and safeguard employment."
The letter offered the council's support in trying to avoid the planned axing of the factory and the loss of skilled jobs, saying the authority would welcome discussions with the firm to explore alternatives to closure.
Mr Phillips also praised the hard work of the staff and their contribution to the company's success, and said he hoped that recognition of their efforts would "guide the company in its deliberations and actions over the coming months".
Last year Unilever bought the Alberto Culver company — including the Swansea site, which makes VO5 hair products — for some $3.7billion.
Unilever makes a wide range of famous brands from Pot Noodle — which is made in Crumlin near Caerphilly — to Lynx deodorant, Persil, Cornetto and PG Tips.