The original Queensland factory of Weis ice cream has closed after Unilever moved production to its Sydney factory, sparking a community outcry.
Located in Toowoomba, the factory’s closure brings to an end 60 years of local production in the state it was founded.
The transfer of production has been criticised by the brand’s fans and locals.
“More than 93 jobs to be lost in Toowoomba. What a loss of a Toowoom icon, especially after assurances that the factory would stay,” Sondha Alexander commented on Weis’ Facebook page.
“Closing the factory is not a decision we anticipated when we bought Weis, and it was our firm intention to keep manufacturing at Toowoomba,” Unilever replied.
“We recognise the significant impact that relocating to NSW will have on employees and the local community, and it was made with the best intentions in order to keep the manufacturing of the much loved Weis on-shore and build its long-term success.”
The Toowoomba factory was listed for sale last year. However, it still remains on the market. Unilever said it will contribute 25 per cent of proceeds from the sales of the factory to the local community.
Keith Head, factory director at Unilever, said many staff had upskilled in the months prior to the closure.
“To see the optimism of people and the upskilling they’ve done over the last year … it’s just exciting to see the opportunities and just watch where they land,” he said.
Founded in 1957, Weis was bought by Unilever in 2017. Two years later, Unilever announced its plan to close the Garden City operation to move Weis production to Minto NSW. The ice cream brand is famous for its frozen fruit desserts Fruito Bars.