January 09, 2002

Paul W. Wood
Unilever United States, Inc.
(212) 418-8806
Jill Lawrence
(804) 371-0049
-Governor Gilmore announces 65 new jobs; $15 million investment -

RICHMOND - Governor Jim Gilmore today announced that Unilever has selected its Suffolk manufacturing plant as its strategic site for United States tea production and will invest $15 million in the facility over the next 30 months, creating 65 new jobs.

“Unilever’s Lipton Tea plant has operated in Suffolk since 1955,” said Governor Gilmore. “The hard-working people of Suffolk have proven to be a great asset to the company’s success. I applaud this announcement of 65 new jobs in Hampton Roads.”

Governor Gilmore approved a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist the City of Suffolk with site preparation. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the City of Suffolk assisted Unilever with its decision. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide workforce training services.

Scott Simmons, Unilever's Suffolk Plant Manager said: "This is an important achievement for the Suffolk plant, its employees and for the community. It will now be up to us to ensure we maintain our focus on delivering improved performance on safety, quality, customer service, productivity and cost throughout this transition period. I would also like to thank the City of Suffolk and the Commonwealth of Virginia for their support in bringing this project to the Suffolk Plant.”

This move to Suffolk will create a single manufacturing site in the U.S. and follows a decision by Unilever to close its specialty tea manufacturing plant in Santa Cruz, CA. The decision was made as part of Unilever's Path to Growth strategy that includes consolidating production into fewer plants in order to build a world-class supply chain.

The Suffolk plant currently employs 332 co-workers, manufacturing Lipton Tea, including Regular, Decaffeinated and Cold Brew iced tea products. Unilever expects the transfer of production to be completed by the end of 2002. New employees will include production workers and machinists.

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Joshua N. Lief attended today’s announcement on the Governor’s behalf. “The new jobs being created by Unilever are very important to Suffolk and the Hampton Roads region,” said Lief. “We are pleased that the company recognized the benefits of expanding in the Commonwealth.”

"We are extremely excited that Unilever Bestfoods will be consolidating all U.S. Lipton Tea operations into the Suffolk plant, creating 65 new jobs," said Suffolk Mayor Curtis R. Milteer. " They have been an outstanding corporate asset to our community for the last 45 years and we welcome their continued growth and prosperity."

Unilever is one of the world's largest consumer products companies with annual sales of approximately $46 billion in 2000. It produces and markets a wide range of foods and home and personal care products. Unilever operates in 88 countries around the globe and employs approximately 300,000 people. In the United States, Unilever sales were approximately $11 billion in 2000. It employs some 28,000 people and has 80 offices and manufacturing sites in 26 states.

Suffolk is the hometown of First Lady Roxane Gilmore.


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