More than 260 workers at a Bridge of Allan factory have been left in limbo after the firm revealed plans to relocate to Lanarkshire.
The United Closures and Plastics (UCP) site, located in Steuart Road, makes caps for whiskey bottles and is owned and operated by the Guala Closures Group.
The firm this week revealed that the plant, as well as its site in Kirkintilloch, are to “transition to one, purpose-built flagship facility based at the Gartcosh Business Interchange, Lanarkshire”.
The Bridge of Allan facility employs 268 permanent workers.
The firm says that the plans are “at a very early stage” and its focus is on retaining employees. A spokesperson this week was quick to downplay discussions of “mass redundancies.”
It’s understood that workers were informed of the plans on Tuesday.
In a statement, Guala Closures Group General Manager Ken Moran said: “The vision of the new site is one of high-performance manufacture, innovation, excellence, and sustainability. The new site will bring additional investment in state-of-the-art equipment and novel technology. Moreover, it will realize improved facilities including, laboratories, workshops, eating areas, changing rooms, and office space.
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“Our existing sites have served the company well over many years, but none allow us to operate at an optimum level for several reasons including space restrictions and layout.
“Guala Closures is fortunate to serve world-class customers based in Scotland. This move strengthens the local supply chain to these customers and enables advances in sustainability.
“The Gartcosh site was chosen for its easy access and central location to best serve our customers. It is our intention to purchase the land which demonstrates a commitment to employees and customers and allows for growth opportunities to future-proof the business.
“While our intention to move has been announced, the project is still at an early stage and much of the detail is yet to be agreed upon. We will be discussing the project with employees to ensure that they are fully informed of the details.
“The skills and commitment of our people is what sets us apart and we are dedicated to retaining this going forward.
“As we work towards this new chapter for the business, our focus, as always, will be on delivering first class service to our customers.”
The transition is expected to be completed in either late 2024 or early 2025.
Carrie Binnie, Unite industrial officer, the union which represents workers at the plant, said: “Unite has already been in dialogue with Guala and negotiations will continue between the company and the union throughout this process.
“It may be an anxious time for our members and we will look to ensure that all workers across both sites can be accommodated in the new purpose built location.
“This investment by the company is a testimony to their highly skilled workforce and hopefully signals a bright future for the company in Scotland.”
Stirling SNP MP Alyn Smith said: “I remain in close contact with Stirling Council’s economic development team and Guala Closures management on the future of their Bridge of Allan business.
“While I’m disappointed operations will be consolidated out with the constitution, I understand efforts will be made to retain skills and experience. The move is currently planned for a few years’ time, and I’ll continue to liaise with employees and management in the meantime.”
In June 2020, we told how shopfloor shift staff at the Bridge of Allan factory were left fearing that they could lose their jobs to zero-hours contract workers following a round of redundancies. Management at Guala Closures told staff of their proposal to shed about 45 jobs by letter. A 30-day consultation was then launched
Guala Closures bought United Closures and Plastics in 2018 for £19.1million.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.