Skills Minister meets apprentices at Port Sunlight

Today Skills Minister Matthew Hancock visited the Unilever Port Sunlight site to lend his support to local young people taking part in a national skills campaign. Following a weekend of festivities as part of Port Sunlight’s 125th Anniversary Village Festival, Matthew Hancock took a tour of the factory and met Unilever apprentices from both the factory and R&D site.

The Minister also visited a Feeding Britain’s Future workshop, where young people were gaining a unique exposure to industry skills with Unilever and its staff.

Mr Hancock’s visit to Port Sunlight comes as Unilever celebrates 125 years since William Lever first began building the works in the Village. Today, the manufacturer employs around 2,000 people in the community and in the future, following the announcement last year of £40million investment in a new high-tech manufacturing facility by 2015, one third of Unilever’s UK and Ireland workforce will be based in Port Sunlight.

Following the visit and skills workshops, Amanda Sourry, Chairman Unilever UK & Ireland, is hosting a commemorative lecture in the Gladstone Theatre in Port Sunlight under the theme of Innovation in Manufacturing – Past, Present and Future.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock, said:

“I want to congratulate the staff and wider community of Port Sunlight as they celebrate their 125th anniversary. Port Sunlight demonstrates the strong heritage and history of the UK’s manufacturing sector.

“Today it is flourishing and looking to the future through the expansion of its Research and Development facilities, backed by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

“I am particularly pleased that Unilever has embraced apprenticeships, with 40 apprentices starting across the business this month alone. I wish these new recruits, and all the staff, the very best for the next 125 years!”

Andy Stickland, works director for the North West, Unilever UK & Ireland, commented:

“Port Sunlight is the historic home of Unilever and following the major investment and new jobs we announced last year, it’s fantastic to welcome Matthew Hancock to see the site in action. I was proud to give him the opportunity to meet some of the young people who are the future of our company.

“Apprentices are talented, ambitious and loyal employees and the scheme is a great way for a company to build their talent for the future. As a large employer, we have an opportunity – and a responsibility - to help develop their skills for the future.”

Joanne Denney-Finch OBE, Chief Executive of IGD, said:

“Feeding Britain’s Future is about helping young people to understand the rules of the game. By offering valuable training in areas like CV writing and interview skills, we want to build confidence so they can compete in the jobs market.”

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Notes to Editors

About Port Sunlight

Port Sunlight is the historic home of Unilever and was the vision of William Hesketh Lever, later the 1st Viscount Leverhulme. Born in 1851 in Bolton, Lancashire, the son of a grocer, he prospered in the family business. In 1884 he decided to specialise in selling individually wrapped bars of household soap and came up with the brand name “Sunlight”. When successful sales meant that production outgrew its first location in Warrington, Lever chose what we now call Port Sunlight as the location of his new factory, due to its proximity to road, rail and water transport.

Today around 2,000 Unilever employees are based in Port Sunlight which is still home to a home care factory, a global research and development facility and business support teams. In 2014 a new world-class personal care factory and hub will open on site, meaning approximately one third of the Unilever UK workforce will be based in the village.

As part of the 125 year anniversary of the Port Sunlight works, Unilever is hoping to create a new social history for Port Sunlight, by asking people with a connection to the place to contribute their pictures and memories to a new dedicated Facebook is using the page to showcase key moments in the history of Unilever and the village itself.

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries. Our products are present in 7 out of 10 homes globally and are used by over 2 billion people on a daily basis. We work with 171,000 colleagues around the world, and we are on track to generate annual sales of €50 billion in 2012. 

Over half of our company’s footprint is in the faster growing developing and emerging markets (56% in 2011). Working to create a better future every day, we help people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known brands such as Knorr, Persil , Dove, Hellmann’s, TRESemmé, Lipton, Sure, Wall’s and Lynx.

Our ambition is to double the size of our business, whilst reducing our overall environmental footprint (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal) and increasing our positive social impact. We are committed to helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, sourcing all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020, and decoupling our growth from our environmental impact. Supporting our three big goals are more than 50 time-based targets. See more on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan at

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit

Alex Try - Blue Rubicon

0207 260 2700

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