Schweppes site to close in deal

Brothers Jim and Peter McMahon with Jonathon McMahon outside the Wulkuraka factory.
Brothers Jim and Peter McMahon with Jonathon McMahon outside the Wulkuraka factory. Yvonne Gardiner

MAJOR soft drinks manufacturer Schweppes is likely to shut down its Wulkuraka operations within 18 months.

More than 40 full-time and casual employees were told a week ago that the staged closure was a result of a recent beverage industry restructure.

However, a rival drinks company is planning to build a new factory in Ipswich at Bundamba.

P&N Beverages managing director Peter Brooks said his company would have a factory at Citiswich operating within 12 months.

“We have the property and we've pressed the button to go,” he said.

“There will be jobs available.”

Under a deal with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Schweppes has acquired some of P&N's manufacturing sites, including a factory at Goodna, while P&N will take over a part of the Wulkuraka operation.

P&N will trade as Tru Blu Beverages.

Schweppes Australia corporate affairs manager Robyn Newman said a deal last year proposed by Asahi Holdings (Australia), the owner of Schweppes Australia, to acquire the P&N Beverages business and integrate the businesses was opposed by the ACCC due to competition concerns.

“Asahi continued to work with P&N to develop alternative deal options,” Ms Newman said.

“Asahi has provided the ACCC with certain undertakings, part of which requires Schweppes to swap some of our production lines for some P&N production lines to ensure both businesses are able to produce their respective product ranges and are able to ensure competition in the marketplace.

“Longer term, as Schweppes will have three manufacturing sites in Queensland after the deal, we will look to rationalise these over time.

“We felt it was best to share our intentions with our employees early in the process and give them an understanding of what is likely to happen.

“We still have more planning to do and will continue to engage our employees.

“It is important to us to provide our people with the right support services to help them prepare for their futures and that they are treated well, with dignity and respect throughout. We have an excellent track record of doing this.”

Soft drinks have been manufactured at the Wulkuraka factory since 1977.

Topics:  employment jobs manufacturing restructure

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