McVities factory closes: customers plan to boycott cookies
A public relations campaign launched by McVitie’s has been hijacked by customers unhappy with plans to shut down their only factory in the country where digestives were first prepared.
McVitie’s marketing stunt backfired after infuriating Scots over the decision to close the Tollcross factory in Glasgow with the loss of nearly 500 jobs.
Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer, a major buyer of biscuits made at the Glasgow plant, greeted staff at the plant and expressed regret over the threat of closure.
The world-famous McVitie’s brand dates back to a single store opened in Edinburgh in 1839, but is now owned by the Turkish conglomerate Pladis, with the Tollcross factory cooking lines including Digestives and Hobnobs, as well as own-brand products for M&S .
In a public relations move, McVitie’s posted a message and video clip to Twitter last week featuring their chocolate digestives, adding: “We are calling on the nation to change the way they eat their favorite McVitie’s cookie,” suggesting that people should eat them “upside down” to enhance the taste of the chocolate.
Instead, customers responded in favor of the plant under threat, with one saying, “We are asking you to change the way you treat your workers in your Tollcross plant. McVitie’s – decimating the community that created it.
Another, Sean Baillie, said: “I will not eat it if plans to close the McVitie site go through. Generations of workers have created millions for this brand in east Glasgow.
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David Hume, Scottish organizer of the GMB union, which represents hundreds of affected workers, said: “Managing director David Murray intends his company to turn its back on Scotland and it is understandable that as long as l factory is threatened, the Scots can exercise their considerable consumer power and turn their backs on McVitie’s products.
McVitie workers were told in May they would lose their jobs despite the pandemic after the company told them they were essential staff. A working group led by the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council, the Pladis Action Group, will hold its fourth meeting on Thursday.
The action group is working with unions on counter-closure proposals that could result in investment in the Tollcross plant or in a new plant at an entirely new site nearby.
The Scottish Government said: “We once again call on Pladis to engage directly with the Action Group to explore opportunities to secure a future for the site.”
Pladis said: “We continue to engage with our employees and their representatives on a weekly basis and remain committed to conducting meaningful consultation with them. We also engaged directly with the Action Group Co-Chairs, Cabinet Secretary Kate Forbes and Councilor Susan Aitken, on a regular basis.