Electronics giant Philips is to close its Glemsford factory and transfer its operations to the Netherlands, putting 430 jobs at risk and dealing a major blow to Brexit Britain.
Philips said that it is proposing to close the site near Sudbury in Suffolk, which makes baby bottles, in 2020 and to transfer the majority of its operations to a manufacturing factory in Drachten, the Netherlands.
The decision comes just months after the company’s chief executive Frans van Houten expressed his concerns about Britain maintaining frictionless trade following Brexit.
He said in November that the UK as a “manufacturing hub for the world” would be at risk without a customs union as a “minimum”.
“If that were not to happen we would need to rethink our manufacturing footprint,” Mr van Houten said at the time.
The Glemsford site manufactures products for export outside the UK, which is now in jeopardy as Theresa May looks to extricate the UK from the EU single market.
Philips also said the UK factory closure is part of plans to reduce its global industrial footprint from 50 sites to 30.
Staff are now in redundancy consultation.
“I recognise that our proposed plan will have a profound impact on our colleagues working at the Glemsford site, and our manufacturing presence in the UK,” said Neil Mesher, chief executive of Philips UK & Ireland.
“We have announced the proposal after careful consideration, and over the next period, we will work closely with the impacted colleagues on next steps.
“Philips has a long, established history of serving customers within the UK, and we remain committed to them. The UK is an important market for us, and we will continue to invest in our commercial organisation and innovation programmes in the country.”