National Foods to close Wetherill Park and Cobden sites

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 29th June 2010

yogurt_cropped.jpgNational Foods to close Wetherill Park and Cobden sites

National Foods today advised its workers that the Wetherill Park and Cobden fresh dairy sites will be closed over the next two years, with 280 jobs to be lost.

The company will expand its Morwell site in Victoria and Baulkham Hills site in NSW, with volumes expected to triple and equipment to be imported from the closing factories.

National Foods plans to spend $55 million on infrastructure for the expansion of the Morwell facility and $10.5 million on Baulkham Hills, on top of $65.5 million already spent on Morwell and Baulkham Hills, with production of sour cream and other fresh dairy to be added to the existing yoghurt lines.

The company is also believed to have spent $30 million building a new line at Wetherill Park for its Bulla Thick ‘n’ Creamy Yoghurt.

In addition to expected redundancies at the NSW locations, National Foods also announced the immediate redundancy of the 27 Morwell maintenance staff, with equipment maintenance to be outsourced.

Workers made redundant at Wetherill Park and Cobden will not be transferred, although the company has offered preferential hiring as vacancies in other locations become available.

“Any decision that results in job losses is taken extremely seriously,” said National Foods Operations Director Arthur Murphy. “Today’s announcement is about ensuring we remain a sustainable and viable operator in the dairy foods market today and in the future.”

“When we take into consideration the duplication in our manufacturing operations, Fonterra taking back production of its own Ski yogurt currently being made in Wetherill Park, the environmental impacts and costs of running four sites and the reduced demand for products manufactured at Cobden, the review identified that four sites were not viable in the long-term.”