AUSTRALIA – Unilever has announced an extensive review of its Australia and New Zealand ice cream business unit as the company seeks to cushion the business from volatility in the ice cream market.
The company announced that it will transfer the manufacture of its Weis line of ice creams from Toowoomba, Queensland to Minto site in New South Wales, Australia.
The relocation will consequently result to the closure of the Toowoomba manufacturing facility in December 2020 following a gradual transition. Closure of the Toowoomba site will affect over 93 employees.
Unilever acquired Weis from the Weis family in 2017 and has since then made major investments in the site. The company said that the decision will ensure a long, sustainable future for the historic Weis brand.
Chief Executive Officer of Unilever Australia & New Zealand, Clive Stiff, said: “We have made significant investments in building the brand through marketing, research & development, and increased distribution in Australia and international markets.
“However, the ice cream market – in terms of costs, competition and distribution channels – has changed very quickly and pressure on our business has significantly increased.
“After an extensive review, it’s become clear that consolidating our Australian ice cream manufacturing operations at Minto is necessary to achieve the benefits of scale and ensure continued strong on-shore manufacturing.
“We are committed to providing consumers with the same exceptional Weis products with the same high-quality natural ingredients.
“Queensland will also remain a very important part of the Weis brand, and we will continue to support businesses and farmers throughout the State by retaining local fruit sourcing.”
For those whose roles are made redundant, the company noted that it will “offer significantly more favourable redundancy provisions than the existing enterprise agreement,” which was in place before Unilever’s ownership.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we recognise that this announcement will affect everyone on site at Toowoomba as well as the local community,” Stiff added.
Unilever has also established a dedicated support program to assist employees in preparing for future employment opportunities.
As part of that program the company will be working with employees to provide re-skilling and up-skilling training, interview training, and wellbeing support.
Unilever added that it is planning to to set aside 25 per cent of the proceeds of the future sale of the site for the benefit of the Toowoomba community.