Production of iconic Somerset cider brands ceased production this week at the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill, as Unite reiterated its call today (April 1) for the Irish owners to urgently find a buyer for the site.
The Dublin-based C&C Group has now stopped the production of the Somerset ciders Addlestones, Blackthorn, Natch and Olde English. Production will now be at Clonmel in the Irish Republic.
“The last batch of these ciders has been made this week,” said Unite regional coordinating officer Steve Preddy. “The last sugars and yeast have been added to the cider fermentation as the company appears hell-bent on shutting down this profitable mill.
“We fear famous Somerset ciders with names such as Dry Blackthorn could be lost forever with 120 dedicated workers losing their jobs and a 246-year-old cider-making heritage in the town disappearing forever,” he added.
“The closure is completely unnecessary as C&C Group has a company-wide profit forecast of €103 million – that’s about £81 million at today’s exchange rate.
“Again, Unite urges the company to find a buyer for both the site and the brand, as that combination will make the cider mill an even more attractive prospect for a potential buyer,” Preddy went on to say.
“What is happening at Shepton Mallet is economic vandalism by a multi-national that cares not one jot for its hardworking employees. This threatened closure will devastate a long-established community built up around cider-making.”
A recent trading update from the company expected the operating profit across its operations for the 12 months to February 29, 2016 to be in the region of €103 million. Trading in the last quarter provides ‘grounds for optimism’. Results for the year will be announced on May 11.
The cider mill is due to close in the summer when production ceases and the pulped fruit is transported to Ireland – the first 40 redundancies have already been announced.