The move formed part of a broader announcement in which Kraft revealed plans to shut down its Cheltenham HQ and relocate commercial, administrative and other support staff to Bournville and Uxbridge.
Under the proposals, Bournville will become responsible for driving new product development, new technologies and best practice for brands such as Dairy Milk, Milka, Toblerone, Côte d’Or, Terry’s, Green & Black’s, Suchard and Lacta.
Meanwhile, staff at Reading would go beyond chocolate and conduct research into all areas of confectionery, said a spokesman. "Reading will look at more deep dive R&D whereas the Bournville R&D is more application-specific."
While Kraft's European R&D centre at Munich would remain open, some jobs would transfer to the UK following the restructuring, he added. "Munich covers drinks, snacks, biscuits and so on as well as confectionery, but the chocolate research hub is now moving to the UK."
When RSSL was established in the late 1980s, its function was to provide technical outsourced solutions for Cadbury and some other companies. However, it now conducts analysis, consultancy, product development and training work for the food and drink, pharmaceutical, healthcare and consumer goods industries.
Its site in Reading is now known as the Reading Science Centre, comprising RSSL and a dedicated Cadbury research team, which has experts in analytical, sensory and consumer science, nutrition, and novel processing technologies.
RSSL would continue to provide analytical services, training and consultancy to a wide range of companies following today's announcement, said md Kay O'Donnell: “We look forward to making a strong contribution to innovative products and the growth of Kraft Foods. But the announcement is also good news for our many clients who value the expertise and experience that RSSL can offer in new product development, problem solving, risk management and addressing quality and safety issues.”
Kraft Cheltenham HQ to close in 18 months
In a statement, Kraft Foods UK & Ireland president Nick Bunker said that consolidating commercial, financial and administrative staff at Uxbridge and Bournville would “strengthen collaboration and support a high performance culture".
He added: “We would be very sad to leave Cheltenham and we would provide significant resources to support employees from all affected sites during the move. However, the business rationale is compelling.
“Having our R&D, customer service and support functions working side-by-side will enable us share more insights, act more quickly and execute more flawlessly, thereby accelerating our growth.”
The transition process would take about 18 months, he predicted: “We will consult fully with all affected individuals about the implications and options available before a final decision is taken and allow as much time as we can for people to plan.”
The operational restructuring following Kraft's acquisition of Cadbury is also continuing apace, with the Polish chocolate factory at the centre of the row over the takeover due to start manufacturing products destined for the UK in the second quarter of this year.
The plant, which is next door to Cadbury’s gum plant in Skarbimierz, Poland, will start making products formerly made at Cadbury’s plant in Keynsham, UK, “during the second quarter of this year”, corporate affairs boss Jonathan Horrell told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
The factory hit the headlines in February after Kraft reneged on a pledge to keep Keynsham open because Cadbury’s plans to close it and transfer production to Skarbimierz were so far advanced that it would be that “unrealistic to reverse them”.