Dairy Crest is today announcing that it is starting consultation with employees and their representatives regarding the closure of its glass bottling dairy in Hanworth, West London and its specialist cream potting facility in Chard, Somerset.
The proposal to end production at Hanworth, which currently employs around 200 people, follows a strategic review of the company’s residential delivery service and is necessary to protect the long-term future of this business. It reflects reduced demand for milk in glass bottles. Although it is anticipated that the site will remain operational for around a further 2 years the eventual closure is being announced today to give employees at Hanworth clarity over the dairy’s future. It will also reassure the company’s 1,400 milkmen and women that Dairy Crest is doing all it can to help them retain their livelihoods as consumers increasingly prefer to buy fresh milk in plastic bottles rather than glass ones.
The proportion of milk put into glass bottles has fallen from 94% in 1975 to just 4% in 2012. Consumers find plastic bottles more convenient and safer than glass and independent benchmarking commissioned by Dairy Crest has also confirmed that across the supply chain as a whole, delivering milk in plastic bottles, which are lighter and increasingly made from recycled material, is now as environmentally friendly as glass.
The Hanworth dairy is expected to remain operational for around a further two years. During that period, production at the company’s three plastic bottling dairies at Chadwell Heath, Foston and Severnside will be stepped-up to meet the demand from residential customers. After Hanworth’s closure, Dairy Crest’s milkmen and women will deliver fresh milk solely in plastic bottles.
With regard to Chard, the business has considered many options to improve the economic viability of this site, where around 60 people are employed, without success. As a result it is proposed to close the site on economic grounds in the second half of 2015.
Chief Executive, Mark Allen, commented:
“The decisions to consult on the closure of our Hanworth and Chard sites have not been taken lightly, but they are right for the long term future of the business as a whole. We will do all we can to help employees who may be affected by these proposals.
At Hanworth nothing is going to change immediately but sales of milk in glass bottles are falling and we have to give our employees at Hanworth clarity over the dairy’s future. We also have to let our milkmen and women know that we are doing all we can to protect their livelihoods. By offering residential customers the same great-tasting British milk from the same farmers as we do now in plastic bottles we are doing just that.
Our decision to consult with employees at Chard is an economic one. We have tried to make this site viable for many years but regrettably this has not proved possible despite the best efforts of a dedicated workforce.”