Nestlé has reaffirmed its commitment to overhauling chocolate brand Perugina, saying it ‘strongly rejects’ any notion that it’s become ‘disengaged’ with the investment plans.
Nestlé announced in March last year that it would back Perugina with €60 million’s worth of modernisation and upgrades – including €15 million to strengthen its existing San Sisto factory in Italy with new technology and a new organisational model.
But news that the changes would lead to more than 300 redundancies has created uncertainty, with speculation in the Italian press that the move would face political hurdles.
Nestlé has now said that the organisational restructuring ‘is needed to ensure productivity’, and was the only way to overcome the challenges already imposed by a rapidly evolving market. Without the shake-up, the future of the San Sisto plant could be in doubt, it said.
“The plan presented, the current economic investment and the first results achieved in exports – in particular with the relaunch of Tablò tablets and the export of Baci Perugina, a flagship ‘Made in Italy’ product produced exclusively in Perugia – prove that the commitment to new industrial installations in Perugia is concrete and based on solid foundations,” Nestlé said.
The Swiss company denied that the redundancies were a step down from its original commitment, announced at the beginning of 2016.
The plan included €15 million for new technology and organisational restructuring at San Sisto. © Google
The strategy sought to make Perugina a symbol of Italian excellence in a similar manner to sparkling water brand San Pellegrino, and will include the creation of an international confectionery business – led by former San Pellegrino executive Valeria Norreri – to oversee Perugina’s overseas expansion.
Nestlé claimed that it had always acted ‘with transparency and a sense of responsibility towards workers and trade unions’.
“The company does not intend to take a step backward with regards to the investment plan and employment plan signed together with the trade unions in 2016,” it said. “The €60 million made available by Nestlé is aimed at enhancing the production site.”
But it acknowledged that job losses were necessary to make the plant profitable, adding that the company had been using ‘social safety nets’ for its employees for several years – a phrase referring to state-provided employment benefits. With the support ceasing to be available after June 2018, it would be wrong to describe the net losses as ‘a new and unexpected phenomenon’, Nestlé said, adding there would be ‘no industrial downsizing’ at the Perugina plant.
“In fact, the plan provides different possibilities for professional redeployment, all supported by Nestlé,” the company added. “Nestlé has already begun training and retraining courses that involve workers in various ways, as provided for in the original agreement.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2018