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Campaign to save historic Unilever factory from closure


NEWS that the future of Warrington’s historic Unilever factory is under threat due to a decline in demand for washing powder has sparked calls to find alternatives to potential closure.

GMB members and Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols are 100% committed to finding alternatives to any potential closure.

GMB, the union for Unilever workers, and and the Warrington North MP have called on Unilever to save its historic Warrington factory.

The company has announced a review of the 136-year-old site due to a “sustained and irreversible decline in demand for washing powder”.

GMB and Ms Nichols have pledged to fight tooth and nail to protect 123 people working at Unilever Warrington

Eamon O’Hearn, GMB National Officer, said:”GMB is extremely saddened at the news that Unilever Warrington, a seminal location in British manufacturing history, could potentially close, less than 12 months after Colman’s in Norwich.

“The site has been operating for 136 years and has a proud record and history, and GMB would obviously want to see a positive result for the workforce from the proposed review.
“Our members are 100% committed to finding alternatives to potential closures and will be working closely with the company experts to explore all options.”

Ms Nichols said: “Unilever’s announcement is of great concern to my constituents in who work at the Crosfields site in Warrington.

“I commit to standing up for my constituents affected by the proposals and I am working with the GMB union to try and secure the future of the workforce there.”

Last year the company announced around 15 redundancies at its Warrington site after announcing the end of one production.

The company founded in 1885 by brothers William Hesketh Lever and James Darcy Lever. Starting with a small grocery business begun by his father, William Lever and his brother James entered the soap business in 1885 by buying a small soap works in Warrington. The brothers teamed up with a Bolton chemist, William Hough Watson, who became an early business partner.

Lever Brothers entered the United States market in 1895, with a small New York City sales office.  By 1900 “Lifebuoy”, “Lux” and “Vim” brands had been added and subsidiaries had been set up in the United States, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Germany and elsewhere. By 1911 the company had its own oil palm plantations in Belgian Congo and the Solomon Islands. Lever Brothers Ltd also acquired other soap companies including A&F Pears, Gossage’s of Widnes, Watson’s of Leeds, Crosfield’s of Warrington, Hazlehurst & Sons of Runcorn and Hudson’s of Liverpool. The town Leverville (the present-day Lusanga) was founded in the Bandundu district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, named after William Lever.

In September 1929, Unilever was formed by a merger of the operations of Dutch Margarine Unie and British soapmaker Lever Brothers, with the name of the resulting company a portmanteau of the name of both companies Unilever.By 1930, it employed 250,000 people and in terms of market value, was the largest company in Britain.

The Lever Brothers name was kept for a time as an imprint, as well as the name of the US subsidiary, Lever Brothers Company, and a Canadian subsidiary, Lever Brothers Limited. Lever Brothers was sold to a US capital firm Pensler Capital Corporation and renamed Korex in 2008.



About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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