Scores of redundancies to be made at Banbury coffee plant, Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE)

Scores of redundancies are to be made at the Banbury coffee plant, JDE, according to insiders.

Monday, 25th January 2021, 4:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th January 2021, 9:44 am
Banbury landmark - the JDE coffee factory, formerly Mondelez, Kraft and Birds

The job losses will affect the research and development (R&D). It is understood 'significant' contract changes for manufacturing staff are also starting the process of consultation. The Banbury Guardian reported planned changes last March. Unions are involved in discussions.

The Banbury Guardian has been told the R&D workforce, which used to employ some 150 staff, is currently down to around 100 through a process of natural wastage. Those who have left have not been replaced.

It is understood that through the new round of cuts, this workforce would be reduced further to just 40 people through redundancy. Insiders say the jobs will be moved to the Netherlands and Malaysia.

The company says it wants a smaller R&D unit in Banbury focusing on 'instant coffee and delivering products for test markets'.

Those inside the factory are led to believe the changes are due to Brexit and Covid and the need to make the factory more profitable.

However JDE workers told us: "JDE had a much more successful year than usual in 2020 with so many people working from home and making their own coffee and tea instead of purchasing from cafes."

"Also they became a publicly listed company. Its incoming CEO, Fabien Simon, was given a €10m welcome payment.

"In the middle of a pandemic which JDE has profited from, they are more interested in increasing their share prices than look after the people in R&D who helped keep the factory running round-the-clock when school closures, quarantine and shielding forced many of the factory's workforce to stay at home."

The workers said: "R&D developed Nespresso compatible L'Or aluminium capsules over many years. This brand was launched in 2016 and is now a €1bn a year business on its own. JDE have profited from the hard work of R&D, many of whom have been with the company for 30yrs, and no longer value them."

The video on this page was made to show how R&D staff in Banbury have developed popular and profitable products for the company.

JDE was formerly Mondelez and before that Kraft who took over from Birds. The factory has been one of Banbury's major employers since the 1960s.

A spokesman for JDE said: "We’re proud of the strong journey we’ve been on since we entered the UK market five years ago and our employees’ hard work both during this period and more recently in what have been unprecedented times as a result of Covid-19.

"We’ve supported our employees during the pandemic to ensure flexibility, where appropriate, including full support for those who are clinically vulnerable and have been shielding and introducing Covid-secure measures.

“We can confirm that we’re proposing some changes to the way we operate as a business here in the UK. The proposals include simplifying terms and conditions for our employees and changing the structure of our global R&D organisation which involves transforming R&D in Banbury into a smaller facility which is focused on instant coffee and delivering products for test markets.

“These proposals are needed because the external landscape has changed significantly but more fundamentally our cost base is not competitive. Making these changes now will put us in a strong position to grow in the future.

“As we’re in the process of consultation with our employees on the proposals, we’re unable to comment on the details or ongoing discussions. The last year has shown that we can operate in a Covid-secure way to protect everyone’s health and safety which is why we’re confident that these conversations can take place while following Covid regulations with targeted support for everyone involved.”

With regard to the payment made to the CEO, the spokesman said: "Upon commencement Fabien received as part of his remuneration package a one time buyout award of €10m, for lost income at his former employer, which he invested back into the business."