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Unilever closing WEIS Toowoomba Factory

From: https://www.weis.com.au/about/

Weis was founded in Toowoomba, Queensland, in 1957.

[…]

Where are Weis Bars made?

Every single Weis product is made in our purpose-built factory located in Toowoomba, approximately 120kms west of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

The Weis family say they never would have sold their iconic Aussie ice cream business to Unilever if they knew it was going to close the Toowoomba factory where the bars are made.

Unilever purchased the brand from the family in 2017 with the “firm intention” of keeping manufacturing in the Queensland city.

But less than three years later, the $240 billion multinational food giant has announced it will axe more than 90 jobs from the regional community and close the factory in December next year, following a “gradual transition”.

The good news is that opportunities exist for affected employees if they are happy to trade life in Toowoomba for Sydney … probably best not described as a ‘tree change’ … ‘sea change’ maybe? ‘harbour change’?

It’s not surprising nor is it the first time that selling to a multinational controlled offshore goes pear shaped in the never ending quest for the only thing that matters - shareholder return …

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My feelings on the matter are…The family looked to the money they could get and the stuff about they wouldn’t have sold has a hollow ring to me. Unilever are a Multinational, they really have one objective and that is make money. The rest of caring about staff etc comes second to the need to please shareholders. The Weiss family had to know this.

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If only it was as high up the list as second - I doubt staff are even in the top 10 things companies care about these days, despite all the hype about valued assets etc … that’s been my experience across a number of industries - and not all multinationals …

You’d think so - once sold, even written conditions of sale probably have an out-clause somewhere in the 900 pages of contract, and even then, could/would the family take action? Company sold, done deal. Maybe they trusted them too much?

The company admits it was the ‘firm intention’ to stay there, according to Mr Stiff (oh dear :rofl:):

“We did not anticipate this decision when we acquired Weis from the Weis family in 2017,” Unilever Australia and New Zealand chief executive Clive Stiff, who informed staff at the factory this morning, said in a statement.

“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 and 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 onshore manufacturing.

The spin being they at least kept it on shore. We’ll probably never know …

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When I read it I also thought exactly the same. I also feel that it might be a bit of a (not what is that word?)… as they possibly still live in Toowoomba and will receive flak from the local community.

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You were being a little cheeky no doubt?

Interestingly, Minto on the edge of downtown Campbelltown is a long way from the harbour, the ocean, and a long way from the laid back idilic lifestyle of Toowoomba and surrounds. It’s much closer than Toowoomba to the Canberra bubble, but just far enough away from the hustle of Sydney to not rate as a great night out. More a great night in sort of place.

Looking at house prices (Minto median $700k for four bedrooms, Minto Heights, add an extra digit) also an expensive downgrade to boring suburban sprawl. At least that was our impression when we stopped there last year. There are some larger rural blocks around, but also priced to reflect the nearness of greater Sydney.

The new Badgerys Creek Airport May prove convenient when finished, although best to check the planned flight corridors before buying.

I would not be surprised if in a little while the product line disappears? I do miss the real mango strings and passion fruit seeds of the original 1960’s treats. No doubt high risk in this day of opportunistic litigation.

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I felt a little sad when I read about this this morning - not even knowing that the brand had been sold - but remembering being introduced to the iconic Fruito in Brisbane in 1973.
I have been able to purchase Weis products in SA, and have had much delight in telling friends & family about how long this wonderful icecream has been being made, and how good it tastes!
PS The ‘mini’ versions are perfect for youngsters: they are usually finished before melting… the only downside with the standard size!

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Oh you mean they want to avoid the abuse they might suffer? They possibly put out the line that they wouldn’t have sold if they had known so they could avoid the grief that will come from the sale and loss of local jobs. I am not saying it is this at all but one could make that assumption and think those very thoughts.

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Sounds like they are covering their collective posteriors.

Clearly they did not think things through, otherwise they would have realised that when selling to a multinational the local allegiances is not going to be there.

They could have explored local ownership and offered to sell the business to the staff as a co-operative perhaps?

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As with most capitalists, decisions are made for financial reasons and no/few other aspects need be considered unless they too add value to the deals. The days when any business owner (whether individual or corporate/public) worried about their communities or staff are not all gone, but heading that way quickly.

They are obviously all right as a family and perhaps a monied dynasty, and they can wring their hands about the rest of Toowoomba to look good.

The old saw is if you ask a young American what his goal in life would be, it is often to develop a product or company, expand it, buy up the competitors, and become the world leader. Asking the same question to a young Australian begets developing a product or company, expanding it, and selling it to a multinational. That reflects our businesses whether by design or accident.

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