Kraft To Close 1 Cadbury Plant In UK

Just weeks after taking over British confectioner Cadbury, Kraft has announced it's closing one of Cadbury's production facilities — despite its earlier promises not to. And that's got Cadbury workers at the flagship Bournville plant worried the same thing will happen to them.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR's business news starts with a merger more bitter than sweet.

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MONTAGNE: Kraft Foods is moving ahead with its takeover of the venerable British chocolate maker Cadbury, even as some in Britain find Kraft's initial moves distasteful.

Vicki Barker has our report.

VICKI BARKER: When Kraft was pursuing Cadbury, Kraft executives strongly implied that if their takeover bid was successful, they would cancel Cadbury's plan to close its Somerdale plant in western England. This week, though, Kraft confirmed that Somerdale will close next year after all, with a loss of 400 jobs.

Now, employees like Amoree Radford feel betrayed.

Ms. AMOREE RADFORD: Absolutely devastated and disgusted. They're despicable people. How can they lie so much and take us all in?

BARKER: And now, 2,500 employees in Bournville, the model community created by Cadbury's philanthropist founders, wonder if their jobs will be the next to go.

Britain's business secretary, Peter Mandelson, says Kraft Global CEO Irene Rosenfeld gave no indication of the change in plans when he met with her last week.

Mr. PETER MANDELSON (British Business Secretary): I think it would've been more honest, more straightforward and straight-dealing with the company and its workforce, and also with the government, if she had told me what their intentions were.

BARKER: Kraft insists there was no deception involved. It's only now that they've had a detailed look at Cadbury's books, executives say, that they've realized construction of a new, $160 million plant in Poland is too far advanced to stop now.

For NPR News, I'm Vicki Barker in London.

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