Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), the world’s principal independent Coca-Cola bottler, declared a £31 million investment at its Wakefield production site – Europe’s most significant soft drink facility by volume.
The investment introduces a cutting-edge canning line set to commence operations in 2024, capable of producing 2,000 cans per minute. This initiative enhances the production of CCEP’s 330ml light-weight cans. The fresh canning line will utilize advanced technology according to the firm, optimizing energy, water, and CO2 consumption, a move underlined by such innovations as air rinsing, dry lubrication, and motor auto-sleep features.
While the site currently employs over 500 personnel, the new line will add 28 new positions and further training to enhance staff skills.
The funds will also be used to make infrastructural enhancements, which the firm says will boost production and upcoming innovations. Among the new facilities are a raw material storage warehouse, increased utilities storage, and an extension of existing site facilities. The move aligns with the recent introduction of an attached cap production feature on two site lines, which the company says will promote comprehensive plastic bottle recycling.
Since 2017, the Wakefield facility has benefited from investments totaling £118 million. This new pledge aligns with CCEP’s sustainability strategy, “This is Forward.”
Simultaneously, the Wakefield team aims to diversify the business supply chain, in line with CCEP’s “Everyone is Welcome” philosophy. The goal is to draw in a varied workforce, especially those unfamiliar with the manufacturing sector. To facilitate this, numerous job openings, inclusive of positions for the new line, have been made available for individuals with minimal manufacturing experience. The company’s apprenticeship scheme has also seen modifications to cater to varied age groups and skill sets.
Vanessa Smith, Director of Supply Chain Operations at CCEP, emphasized the firm’s dedication to sustainable innovation in a related press release.
“We’re committed to developing our sites to keep at the forefront of innovation, ensuring we can continue to deliver drinks to our customers and to consumers in a sustainable way. This latest investment underscores our commitment to our Wakefield site and the 500 colleagues who work here, from our apprentices to our longest-serving employees.”
“As well as innovating our production capabilities, we’re committed to recruiting more diversely to reflect the communities we operate in, including bringing on more women and others into manufacturing, logistics and distribution roles,” she continued. “We’re shifting hiring processes to focus on skills and aptitude rather than just historical qualifications, for example, and are offering more flexible working options to better suit a range of lifestyles.”
Stephen Moorhouse, Vice-President at CCEP (GB), highlighted the plant’s key role in modern manufacturing and underscored the £100 million investment made within five years.
“The latest development at Wakefield is a milestone investment that will allow us to take the next step in our sustainability journey while making positive contributions to our local community here in Wakefield.
“Wakefield is our largest manufacturing site, offering a wide range of modern manufacturing jobs and sitting at the heart of many of the latest manufacturing technologies,” he added. “As a result, in just five years, we’ve invested more than £100million into the factory, helping us to accelerate our path to net zero and support the local economy.”
“I am delighted to see CCEP’s substantial investment of £31 million in the Wakefield plant,” noted MP Andrea Jenkyns. “This demonstrates their unwavering confidence in the local economy and reaffirms their commitment to growth and job creation. With new jobs on the horizon, this investment not only strengthens the plant’s position as the largest in Europe but also bolsters the region’s economic vitality. We applaud CCEP for their vision and dedication to our community’s prosperity.”