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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Avon calling it a day
Chris Bull
Mechanical engineer Chris Bull has had no job offers
Cosmetics giant Avon is moving production to a new factory in Poland to save money.

BBC Look East business correspondent Richard Bond has been meeting some of the workers due to leave on Friday.

The end of an era is fast approaching at Avon Cosmetics in Northampton.

On Friday another 172 workers leave the factory as part of the phased closure of manufacturing in the town after 40 years.

In all 465 jobs will have been lost by the time the plant finally shuts in the spring.

Karen Reid
The closure came out of the blue for Karen Reid
Karen Reid does not have another job lined up yet. She admits the news of the closure still has not sunk in.

"It was such a shock. I actually thought they were going to tell us what our pay rise would be for that year. So it came totally out of the blue," she said.

Avon, an American company, has been part of British life since 1959. It pioneered direct selling to the public.

Today its cosmetics are sold by 160,000 representatives nationwide.

Kathy Rimmer says the factory has been a good place to work. She has been on the lines for 13 years.


I don't want to stop working... I'm too young to stop working

Mechanical engineer Chris Bull
"At Christmas we get a tin of biscuits. We always get a bonus. We get paid if we're off sick and we're in a private health scheme. So we do quite well."

On Friday production of creams and lotions in Northampton comes to an end. The rest of production ceases in the spring.

To cut its costs Avon is moving production to the town of Garwolin in Poland, about an hour's drive from Warsaw.

Lower wages and other savings mean the move will save Avon nearly 8m a year. Much of this money will be re-invested in research and development.

Jerry McDonald,  Avon's UK president:
Avon's UK president Jerry McDonald
Avon's UK president Jerry McDonald said: "Every company must continually look for new ways to do business and reduce their costs to become more efficient and competitive.

"We're not taking advantage of people, we're preserving the success of the company and protecting the jobs that remain."

In Northampton, Avon is doing all it can to help departing staff find new jobs.

Most have - unemployment in the town is only 2% - but some staff are struggling.

Mechanical engineer Chris Bull has had 24 years with Avon. At 56, he has not had any job offers.

"I don't want to stop working. I think I'm too young to stop working, quite frankly, and I think I've got something that I can offer to some company. But it's convincing them."


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12 Apr 02 | Business
31 Jul 01 | Business
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