116 jobs will be created in £35m scheme to expand production at Copella’s Boxford site
- Credit: Konings
Plans to invest £35m over 10 years in expanding capacity at the Copella fruit juice site near Sudbury are “a massive vote of confidence in south Suffolk”, according to the firm behind the proposals.
Until Belgian drinks firm Konings took over the Brick Kiln Hill site last year, there was “every chance” that the former PepsiCo plant would close and “the 90 staff we employ would be made redundant”, the site’s boss said.
Phil Clark was speaking following a consultation into the proposals to build new can and plastic (PET) bottle lines, as well as an area for cider processing, which ended on Monday, August 7.
He said the company’s proposals to add cider production alongside juice manufacture, which includes the Copella brand, would not only secure those jobs but create 116 well-paid roles in operations, logistics and engineering.
“With talk of a post-Brexit loss of jobs to other European countries, Konings is actually aiming to establish a UK manufacturing base and return some of the 35% of UK product that is made in Europe back to the UK,” he said.
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“In doing so, we estimate that this will not only boost the prospect for local hard working families but will pump an extra £3.7m of spending money into the local economy.”
Leavenheath Parish Council has raised concerns about a potential increase in traffic traffic leaving the A134 to reach Stoke Road and the factory entrance.
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But Konings said that as a result of some of the issues raised at consultation meetings with local councils, community groups and planning experts, it had either modified aspects of their expansion plans or is conducting further research into them, including monitoring delivery lorry movements and speeds.
“As a good neighbour for some 40 years, we know it is vital to actively work with others to achieve a balance that both ensures that our considerable investment plans are sustainable and that the needs of local communities are met wherever possible,” said Mr Clark.
Konings says it is set to include highways improvements, noise and light intrusion reduction schemes and a landscaping and tree planting plan into its final proposals as a result of ideas raised by local people during the consultation.
The firm said its planning application had received support “from a number of quarters”, including Boxford Parish Council and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.