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Twinings defends foreign move after UK job cuts

Protesters outside AB Foods' annual general meeting
Image caption The job loss announcements sparked protests outside AB Foods' annual general meeting

A company has defended taking an EU grant to help fund the opening of a tea packing factory in Poland, as hundreds of jobs are lost at its UK sites.

The Twinings plant on North Tyneside, which employs 260 workers, is to close, and 100 posts in Andover, Hampshire, are also set to go.

Owner AB Foods is planning to open a £27m site in Poland.

Critics have said the £12m grant should be used to open new investments, rather than relocate existing facilities.

The European Commission has begun an investigation into whether this use of the funding breached EU rules.

AB Foods Chief Executive George Weston said that the decision to open the Poland site was made before the application for the grant.

"The days when it made sense to import tea to the UK to pack it there and send it to Australia are behind us and we have to have factories in the right places," he said.

"We don't apologise for renewing our supply chain, it's a global business.

"We are expanding our factory in China and building a new one in Poland, which will reduce tea miles and produce a business better equipped to supply the market.

"The blending knowledge and the brand will remain in Andover."

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