Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Pop goes the weasel?

I see that Waters & Robson - the local Morpeth firm selling (amongst other products) Abbey Well mineral water have sold up to Coca Cola. Even if Coca Cola keep the Abbey Well brand (and I guess that is what they are paying for), I don't think they'll see any reason why it should come from or be bottled in Morpeth - that'll be 80+ local jobs at risk as the 'rationalisation process' cuts in.

Of course, it is a privately-owned company, and the directors have a perfect right to sell their property - but I'd have said that Waters & Robson, in some way, also belongs to Morpeth. The business has been linked to the town for a century and more. I think there's an issue of loyalty here.

And even if Coca Cola keep the business in Morpeth - the profits will go out of the town, out of the local economy.

This is what I can't understand when people look for the 'big name' multinationals coming to Morpeth: Costa and Starbucks will threaten our local owned cafes, Subway is squeezing our local sandwich shops, Next, Timpsons, W H Smiths etc will all take business from locally owned shops - and (to my way of thinking) the challenge to our local independent butchers, bakers, delis and greengrocers are Morrisons, Tescos, Sainsburys and M&S - not the markets.

Sure the 'big names' may bring more people into Morpeth (though maybe not so many, if Bridge Street looks identical to any other high street) - but those people won't spend that much in the local shops, and though the 'big name' stores may 'create jobs', their profits will go out of the town - and jobs will be lost from the locally owned shops.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Response from Sanjay Guha, President of Coca-Cola Great Britain

Having read your post on Morpeth Greens' blog, I wanted to contact you directly to address some of the concerns you raised.

This is an exciting opportunity for us to invest in an established and respected North East brand. For a long time, Coca-Cola has been seeking a bottled water opportunity that is right for the company and for the local area. In Abbey Well we have found a high quality source and a healthy business, and we will be investing in the product and the company to ensure sustainable growth over the long-term. We have great respect for Abbey Well and want to develop it responsibly, as we have done with Malvern.

No business of course can offer cast-iron guarantees about jobs, particularly when there is bound to be an overlap between departments and functions, but we will honour the terms and conditions of all existing staff and will consult them fully about our plans. Over the forthcoming weeks and months Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) will be considering how best to integrate the Abbey Well business within the CCE portfolio, and this integration may include job losses. We do not at this time have any plans or proposals regarding the best way to achieve this. However, you can rest assured that we are a responsible employer and we will support Abbey Well employees as we pursue integration. Our hope would be that this could lead to job opportunities for as many of Abbey Well employees as possible.

We are committed to building this successful business to the long-term benefit of the local community, and to working closely with local stakeholders towards that goal. We are confident Abbey Well is the right opportunity for Coca-Cola and has great potential for sustainable growth.