From the editor: Why we will fight hard to protect these jobs

PUBLISHED: 14:56 08 October 2017 | UPDATED: 18:01 09 October 2017

Flour-packing at Colman's in 1960. Picture: Archant library

Flour-packing at Colman's in 1960. Picture: Archant library


This is an industry where often you never know what is around the corner.

When I walk into my office on a Monday morning I’m not entirely sure what we’ll be working on that week or what the main focus will be. Or at what point the big news will break and the direction of the week will change.

It’s what makes this job so exhilarating – but can often make it quite tough as well. And this was one of those weeks.

I was at the launch of the Norfolk Community Foundation’s Vital Signs report when our head of news Ian Clarke texted me about the news Britvic was looking to close its Norwich office, with the loss of around 250 jobs.

That was bad enough, but just two hours later Unilever followed up with confirmation this means they too will have to assess the future of their base at the same site. A site which has, for 200 years, been home to Colman’s Mustard.

We shouldn’t underestimate the potential impact of these announcements. There’s the human cost. Fortunately it’s been many years since I can remember a job loss situation in Norwich of this scale. 350 incomes depend on these factories.

With the average household containing 2.3 people, that’s 800 people directly affected before you start to consider the other livelihoods that feed into it

There’s also a major impact to the city and its reputation as somewhere to trade.

Manufacturing has been in decline for many years. If Norwich was to lose two more of its few manufacturing bases it will only damage its standing as a viable place to operate.

This reputation is also dependant on having products the city is synonymous with and Colman’s, Robinson’s too to a lesser degree, is one of those. That’s why the Colman’s announcement made so many more national headlines

Of course business doesn’t work on emotions. But businesses should see the benefit from being seen as a good, stable employer and having intrinsic links in a community.

We will be doing all we can to convince Unilever and Britvic that their futures belong in Norwich.

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