Hundreds of jobs at risk after Philips Avent announces plans to close down Glemsford factory in 2020
Hundreds of jobs are at risk of being axed, after one of south Suffolk's largest employers confirmed it will close its factory in Glemsford.
Philips Avent announced today plans to shut its baby care product manufacturing plant in Lower Road in 2020, affecting around 500 jobs.
The decision, which will see the factory's production consolidated at an existing site in the Netherlands, comes after a review of the company's industrial footprint in Europe, with bosses stating it had to "pro-actively mitigate the potential impact of various ongoing geopolitical challenges".
Philips has repeatedly warned in recent months that the future of its Glemsford plant was uncertain due to the lack of clarity around the Brexit negotiations, and it needed frictionless trade with the European Union to be maintained.
The site is primarily focused on one category of products, which is exported outside of the UK.
Neil Mesher, CEO of Philips UK and Ireland, said: "I recognize that our proposed plan will have a profound impact on our colleagues working at the Glemsford site, and our manufacturing presence in the UK.
"We have announced the proposal after careful consideration, and over the next period, we will work closely with the impacted colleagues on next steps.
"Philips has a long, established history of serving customers within the UK, and we remain committed to them.
"The UK is an important market for us, and we will continue to invest in our commercial organization and innovation programs in the country."
Reacting to the announcement, South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said he was "extremely saddened and disappointed" by the news.
"My first thought is for all those working at the plant, who will now have to go into consultation about their future, which must be a very unsettling experience," he said.
"I intend to meet the CEO first thing Friday morning in Suffolk, to discuss matters and learn more about their plans for the staff, and for the future.
"Whatever the precise impact, it’s impossible to overlook the fact that this announcement has come just after the Prime Minister’s pro-employment Brexit deal was voted down in the Commons.
"And whatever anyone says, it’s irrefutable that production is not moving from Holland to the UK, but vice versa.
"These job losses are not ‘project fear’. They are real.
"I will continue to do everything I can in Parliament to support finding a Brexit deal that respects the referendum result, but seeks to do so in a sensible way, protecting our economy in the process."