Glanbia has reached agreement to sell the Yoplait Ireland yoghurt business for €18m, but the move is set to result in the loss of 50 manufacturing jobs.
Glanbia has held the Irish franchise for Yoplait for the past 40 years, and introduced the popular French brand to Ireland in the early 1970s.
It is selling the country franchise to Yoplait’s ultimate owner, US food group General Mills, which has recently also bought the regional franchises for Yoplait in Britain and Canada.
Glanbia is viewing the move as a necessity, citing competitive and scale issues and the general challenging retail environment as its main reasons. It is also keen to focus its consumer foods efforts entirely on its wholly-owned brands such as Avonmore milk and Kilmeaden cheese.
In France, Yoplait produces product for 600 million customers from just six plants, while Glanbia has been catering for six million consumers via its one plant.
However, the Kilkenny-headquartered group will still distribute Yoplait products in Ireland, on behalf of General Mills.
The sale of the Yoplait franchise will also see production cease at Glanbia’s manufacturing facility in Inch, Co Wexford.
While it is unclear as to what the future holds for the actual facility, the move will result in 50 job losses, with part of the €18m payout going on redundancy pay. Glanbia management will today begin talking terms with Siptu.
“This agreement to reconfigure the relationship with Yoplait will enable Glanbia Consumer Products to focus on ongoing innovation and the development of our core beverage and food brands. Regrettably, this decision will result in approximately 50 redundancies. We recognise this is a difficult time for all those impacted,” Glanbia consumer products chief executive Colin Gordon said.
More than 1,800 people are employed across the Glanbia group in Ireland, with 600 of them employed directly by its consumer foods business.
At its AGM earlier this month, Glanbia said it expects a strong first-half performance this year, despite a more challenging trading environment.
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