A MAJOR report has urged Cadbury’s new owner to clarify the future of its North Wales operation.

The report, released yesterday by the Business Select Committee of MPs, said US food giant Kraft was “unwise” to promise to save the Somerdale plant near Bristol, only to announce later that it would close with the loss of 400 jobs.

And it called for Kraft to clarify its intentions over the lack of specific guarantees on the future of Cadbury’s factory at Chirk and at other sites.

The committee also urged the Government to monitor undertakings given by the company, including pledges of no compulsory redundancies for two years, funding arrangements for the Cadbury Foundation and future pension plans.

Chairman Peter Luff said: “The controversy surrounding the Kraft takeover has rightly opened a debate on how takeovers in the UK are conducted.

“That debate must continue, as a matter of urgency, in the next Parliament and I fully expect the next Business, Innovation and Skills Committee to play a key role in any future reform.

“Kraft gave us a number of undertakings on the future of Cadbury, which we have put in the public domain.

“Kraft will have to deliver, in full, on these undertakings if it is to repair the damage caused to its reputation by the woeful handling of the closure of the Somerdale factory.”

The MPs added in their report: “We conclude that Kraft acted both irresponsibly and unwisely in making its original statement that it believed that it could keep the Somerdale factory open.

“By doing so, Kraft has left itself open to the charge that either it was incompetent in its approach to the Somerdale factory or that it used a ‘cynical ploy’ to improve its public image during its takeover of Cadbury.”

Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of Unite, said Kraft’s chief executive, Irene Rosenfeld, should now meet Cadbury workers in Britain and Ireland.

He said: “Never again should the short-term interests of shareholders and the hedge-fund boys in red braces making a quick buck come before the long-term interests of household-name British companies and the thousands of jobs and families these companies support.”

Cadbury’s Chirk plant currently employs 250 people and is a key local employer.
Last month Marc Firestone, Kraft’s executive vice-president, told the select committee that there would be no further closures of manufacturing facilities in the UK for “at least two years”.