Industry News

[July 29, 2006]

End of an era as city's last tobacco factory closes

(Daily Post (Liverpool) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) LIVERPOOL'S last tobacco factory is to close, marking the end of an era in the city.

Imperial Tobacco last night announced it will shut its historic pipe tobacco and snuff factory, Ogden's on Boundary Road, with the loss of 140 jobs.

Yesterday, Liverpool's business community said the closure of the factory marked a change in society and a decline in the tobacco industry.

Mark Basnett, director of investment at The Mersey Partnership, said: "Imperial's decision says a lot more about the state of the world tobacco industry and the legislation and regulations which now govern it, than it does about the quality and skill of its Liverpool workforce.

"These job losses, and the closure of the plant, are regrettable. Support to those affected will be offered by our colleagues at Business Liverpool."

Ogden's has been producing pipe tobacco and snuff since 1899, and now also packages Golden Virginia.

But, last night, Imperial said demand had "declined considerably" in recent years.

Manufacturing director David Cresswell said: "We operate in a challenging environment and must ensure that we continue to reduce costs and improve productivity and operational efficiencies.

"Our immediate focus will be on supporting our employees during this difficult time.

"Job losses are always regrettable and we will ensure that our highly skilled workforces are treated in a fair and responsible manner." The Daily Post understands that staff were sent home after yesterday's announcements and union leaders are in talks with the company. No one from the Amicus union was available for comment last night.

Imperial said some staff may be moved to other areas of the company.

The Bristol-based company says it will shut the site by March next year as part of a shake-up of its operations in Europe.

It will axe 275 jobs at its operation in Lahr, Germany.

The company says it will transfer its Golden Virginia operations to factories in Nottingham and Mullingar in Ireland.

It added that arrangements for production "are currently being finalised".

Chief executive of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce Jack Stopforth said: "It's a shame to see a long-established business and chamber member closing their operations in the city.

"While we are mindful of the impact on employees, it is an unfortunate reflection in changing tastes and habits. This underlines the need for us to move our economy up the value chain and attract businesses that are "future proof".

"We need to show we have the skills and the facilities to win such investments."

The closures in Liverpool and Germany will save Imperial pounds 7m a year. It is the world's fourth largest tobacco company, with brands such as Regal, Embassy, Lambert & Butler and Davidoff.

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