While we believe the decision will ensure a long, sustainable future for the historic Weis brand, the decision will regrettably result in the closure of our Toowoomba manufacturing facility in December 2020 following a gradual transition.
Chief Executive Officer of Unilever Australia & New Zealand, Clive Stiff, said: “We did not anticipate this decision when we acquired Weis from the Weis family in 2017. It was our firm intention to keep manufacturing at Toowoomba, which is why we have made major investments in the site over the past two and a half years.
“We have also made significant investments in building the brand through marketing, research & development, and increased distribution in Australia and international markets.
“However, the ice cream market – in terms of costs, competition and distribution channels – has changed very quickly and pressure on our business has significantly increased.
“After an extensive review, it’s become clear that consolidating our Australian ice cream manufacturing operations at Minto is necessary to achieve the benefits of scale and ensure continued strong on-shore manufacturing.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we recognise that this announcement will affect everyone on site at Toowoomba as well as the local community. We have spoken to the Weis family and we appreciate their deep disappointment, and we understand this is not something they would have foreseen when they sold the business to Unilever.
“We are committed to providing consumers with the same exceptional Weis products with the same high-quality natural ingredients. Queensland will also remain a very important part of the Weis brand, and we will continue to support businesses and farmers throughout the State by retaining local fruit sourcing.”
Regrettably, all 93 full-time, part-time and casual roles at the Toowoomba site will be impacted by this decision, however opportunities will be available should employees wish to transfer to other parts of the Unilever business, including our operations in Sydney. For those whose role is made redundant we will offer significantly more favourable redundancy provisions than the existing enterprise agreement, which was in place before Unilever’s ownership.
We have also established a dedicated support program to assist employees in preparing for future employment opportunities. As part of that program we will be working with employees to provide re-skilling and up-skilling training, interview training, and wellbeing support. Unilever will also work with local employers, employment agencies and government organisations to identify career pathways and support for team members.
Mr Stiff thanked staff today for their dedication, hard work, passion and ongoing commitment to the highest standards of quality.
“We acknowledge the role the Weis factory has played in the Toowoomba community and are planning to set aside 25 per cent of the proceeds of the future sale of the site for the benefit of the community to ensure the contribution of the factory and its people is remembered and celebrated,” Mr Stiff said.
“All options for this are on the table and we will be consulting with our employees and local community leaders to ensure the funds are spent in a way that best serves the needs of Toowoomba. We are particularly interested in community or institutional groups that support long-term skills development and employment opportunities in the area.
“We want to thank our staff and everyone else who has contributed so much to Weis and its achievements over more than 52 years. Our focus is now on ensuring we fully support our people through a range of measures during this transition.”
Phone: +61 448 661 487
About Unilever Australia and New Zealand
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Foods & Refreshment, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. It has 161,000 employees and generated sales of €53.7 billion in 2017.
Unilever has more than 400 brands found in homes around the world. In Australia and New Zealand, our brands include Flora, Lipton, Bushells, Dove, Rexona, Lynx, Vaseline, OMO/Persil, Surf, Continental, Toni & Guy, Choysa, Ben & Jerry’s and Streets.