Monday, 7 May 2012

Will Cadbury's Rise from the Ashes?

Hurrah for the Cadbury's heiress!
Felicity Loudon, the great-granddaughter of George Cadbury who founded the chocolate factory at Bourneville is now actually selling her house in order to find capital to set up a new chocolate factory.
Felicity inherited only a minor holding in the family's much-loved chocolate factory. She was proud of its tradition of caring for all its workers at every level and creating a workplace that was beautiful and welcoming. The Cadbury's "factory in a garden" at Bourneville near Birmingham was a model of its kind. Pioneers of worker welfare and housing, they provided employment for hundreds of people for generations and proved that private business can exist to the benefit of all concerned - the owners, the production workers and the consumers. They even provided school prizes to encourage high standards of reading and writing in the 7-11 age group.
The business had moved its production to other factories by the time the giant Kraft international corporation put in a bid for it two years ago. Flush with money borrowed from the Royal Bank of Scotland, (provided by the tax-payer) they made an offer of £1.9 billion. Felicity did not want to sell and sensed that this was a hostile bid - but she did not have control. Holding less than 50% of the shares , she had to let the majority decide what to do. She warned the other shareholders that this takeover would endanger the jobs, but Kraft made specious promises that they would keep the business running as it always had done. The share-holders sold out. A year later Kraft went back on its word and closed down the factory, making all the employees redundant in the middle of the worst slump we have had for two generations.

Of course it was ridiculous that they could not be compelled legally to keep the promises made at the time of the takeover. Our laws are toothless.
Soon afterwards Kraft sought permission to build on the land, and admitted that they were shifting chocolate production to Poland, where wages are low. Do any of the British workers want to exercise their right to move to Poland as it is an EU country? Not really.
Now Felicity Loudon is going to set up a new chocolate factory here in Britain. Sadly she will not be able to use the familiar Cadbury's logo or brand name, as these were sold too. But her family has always made chocolate and they can be relied on to produce the very best. What a marvellous woman - there really has to be some hope for Britain so long as we have people like her. I wish her all success.

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