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Bournville lags behind rivals, Cadbury boss admits

But the £75 million investment announced by American owners Mondelez International in January can pave the way for a ‘world-class’ future for the plant for another 100 years, says the man at the helm

Cadbury's Bournville headquarters
Cadbury's Bournville headquarters

The world-famous Bournville chocolate factory is lagging behind its European counterparts – with ageing infrastructure and manufacturing costs double that of sister plants.

But the £75 million investment announced by American owners Mondelez International in January can pave the way for a ‘world-class’ future for the plant for another 100 years, says the man at the helm.

In his first interview since becoming Mondelez’s President for the UK and Ireland, Maurizio Brusadelli outlined his vision for the future of Bournville and its 2,000 strong workforce – and revealed consultations with workers to reduce costs were going well.

He told the Post: “We are not competitive today – to be competitive we need to invest. We have to go back, hopefully invest after the consultations, and then we can talk about what is next.

“Bournville can be one of the best plants in the world for manufacturing. To do that we have to change and we need the money to invest to create lines that are state of the art. We cannot work with lines that are 40, 50 years old.

“With this money, Bournville can be one of the best manufacturing plants in the world and competitive with other plants.”

Neil Chapman, Manufacturing Director Chocolate UK for Mondelez International, said: “Our costs on the ground down here are twice as much as others in our sister factories in Europe. That is manufacturing costs, compared to other sister plants in Europe, such as Germany.

“We use them as a benchmark. Before (the Kraft takeover) there was no-one to compare with.

“There are two sides to manufacturing costs. One: spend less, and two, drive more volumes through your plant.

“If we can reduce our costs, we will attract more volumes here and improve our efficiency. I look at Jaguar Land Rover and they are an inspiration to us. They are a fantastic West Midlands manufacturer and they have turned themselves around completely.

“They have got their manufacturing base right, they have a great relationship with their employees and they have fantastic new products.

“Two years ago I took my team to the Castle Bromwich plant, met them and talked to them – we learnt a lot. You don’t have to manufacture in the UK, but they are manufacturing in the UK through choice.

“They were an inspiration to us and we think we can do something similar here in Bournville. They have a great engagement and involvement programme with their staff.”

Maurizio Brusadelli said: “We have great people, great brands and a powerful financial impact. This (investment) is big, positive news for Bournville manufacturing. Bournville now is ready for the future and we see this as an opportunity for this site to be competitive for another 100 years.

“The Cadbury name is a jewel in the crown. Cadbury is part of our DNA. This is a victory because we can be sure that this site will be here for the next generations of workers.

“Our job is to attract investment into the UK. Bournville can continue with its heritage and great history where we have a world-class site, competing internally and externally. This is a win-win situation for us.”

Neil Chapman said: “This is the home of Cadbury and it will be for a long, long time, and it will always be the heart of chocolate. But we have an ageing infrastructure – there are parts of this plant that are 50 years old.”

Mondelez International announced in January that the £75 million investment was dependent on a successful conclusion to consultations with unions on the productivity gap.

Neil Chapman said: “Consultations are progressing well, and I am extremely pleased with the way we are working together.”

Maurizio Brusadelli revealed that increasing sales of a range of chocolate, from Dairy Milk to the new Marvellous Creations and Oreoes, had bolstered Bournville.

“When we acquired the company, we were on £400 million worth of (Dairy Milk) sales every year, now it is more than £530 million, and the majority is made here.”

The new Marvellous Creations bar, invented in Bournville, generated around £50 million of sales last year while the Oreo brand sold around £20 million of chocolate goods.

The Bournville factory currently employs around 2,000 people.

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