With the news that Britvic in Norwich, Delphi in Sudbury and BAE at RAF Marham are closing their doors, there’s been a great focus on the manufacturing industries of East Anglia in recent weeks. Norfolk and Suffolk have had a great and varied history of manufacturing, from wool to shoes and cars and food manufacturing.
Britvic, which produces soft drinks for Robinsons, Tango and J2O, has had a factory at its site in Bracondale for more than 90 years. Britvic’s decision to relocate its production has prompted Colman’s owner Unilever, who share the site at Carrow Works, to reconsider its future at the Norwich facility. Colman’s have been in Norwich for over 200 years, the brand is as synonymous with the city as canaries. The threat of closure has sparked anger amongst residents. Last week, football fans donned their shirts from the 90s, wearing the Colman’s sponsored shirts in support of the EDP’s “They Must Be Saved” campaign, which has now gathered more than 10,000 signatures.
Britvic are set to cut more than 250 jobs in the region over the next two years as it relocates its production elsewhere in the UK. While the engineering firm Delphi Diesel Systems are moving their facilities to Romania with the loss of 520 jobs – further to the 176 lost in 2015. Up to 245 jobs could be lost in Marham, after BAE announced proposed redundancies in response to the Tornado fleet being taken out of service in 2019.
The high-profile closures and job cuts are a blow to the local economy, whose manufacturing industry has grown in recent years against a national decline. Norfolk and Suffolk both saw a rise in the number employed in manufacturing in 2015 and 2016, with investment continuing to grow too.
However, it seems that it is forward-thinking companies that are growing, with investment in automation driving the changing face of the industry. Adapting to the increasing use of automation and being ready for the rise of AI in manufacturing is helping some companies in the region grow. Increasing efficiency in factories and streamlining production may mean less staff on the assembly line, but we’ll always need staff to work in manufacturing. Training staff with the necessary skills to adapt to the changing industry is vital to our continued success.
We’re keen to ensure our company is futureproof, with plans for expansion on the horizon that will increase our productivity and output. We’re on track for another record year and with continued investment we’re confident that 2018 will be bright for our plant in North Norfolk.
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