Kraft takeover could save threatened Cadbury factory

Kraft's takeover offer for Cadbury could mean an unexpected reprieve for the 500 staff at the Dairy Milk firm's factory near Bristol.

Workers at the Somerdale site in Keynsham were told nearly two years ago that the plant would close by early 2010 under plans to switch production to Poland and Cadbury's iconic chocolate factory in Bournville, Birmingham.

But Kraft has said it wants to keep the Somerdale facility open and "undo" some of the streamlining being undertaken by Cadbury should its takeover hopes succeed.

While a deal between Cadbury and the owner of Dairylea and Terry's Chocolate Orange is far from certain, the news will rekindle hopes that Somerdale could yet survive the axe.

Staff, residents of the local community and unions have led a high-profile battle against the decision to close the factory.

The fight looked to be in vain after Cadbury stuck by its plans despite alternative proposals by unions being put forward during an initial three-month consultation.

Unions ended their campaign to reverse the decision in February after workers voted to stop the battle, although the local community fought on, with residents staging a protest outside Cadbury's annual shareholder meeting in London.

The Somerdale factory has a long history in the confectionery world, originally built by the Fry family - the makers of Fry's Chocolate Cream, who later merged with Cadbury.

The factory has been making Fry's chocolate bars since 1919, but now also makes favourites such as Curly Wurly and Crunchie.

Cadbury's production restructuring is also hitting around 200 staff at the historic site at Bournville, Birmingham.

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