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Rival turns up heat on HP Sauce

simon gray 2006-08-29, 11:12:34
Read this article aloud — 423 words

The story of the current owners of the HP Sauce brand, Heinz, preparing to close the factory at Aston Cross (which you can see on the side of the Aston Distressway^WExpressway on the way into Birmingham from the M6) where it has been made for the last 100 years has been gripping the Birmingham media since May.

I have to admit I’m a little ambivalent as to whether or not I want to join in with the city outrage on the matter; on the one hand, indeed the factory is a Birmingham icon and too many Birmingham icons have been trashed in the last five years, 125 people will lose their jobs, and as a correct-thinking leftist liberal I of course should oppose all that is bad in Corporate Greed(tm).

On the other hand, the 125 people do have until next May to find new jobs (how many other people get the luxury of a full 12 month notice period of redundancy? When I was made redundant from Oakwood Village we were warned of the posssibility on the Friday, and then told to clear our desks on the following Monday), and as skilled workers will probably have little trouble finding replacement employment. And, the economics are clear – the factory as it is only operates a part-time week anyway, and since Heinz is, after all, a commercial entity with a need to make profits for the benefit of shareholders rather than an agency of the benefits service, it is a little difficult to blame them for wanting to combine production with a similar factory in the Netherlands which also only operates a part-time week – if one of the two factories has to go, what does make the Birmingham jobs more important than the Dutch jobs?

The story today is that HP Sauce’s long-time rival in the brown chip dressing department, Branston, is to launch a legal action to try to prevent HP from using the Houses of Parliament (after which the sauce is named) motif on the bottles once production moves, on the grounds that if the product is no longer British it will no longer have the right to use British imagery on the packaging.

The irony of this, of course, is that when the Aston factory closes, production of Lee & Perrins Worcester Sauce will return to its original factory in, erm, Worcestershire.

#birmingham #consumer #workers

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