A UNION is seeking reassurance over the future of the PG Tips factory in Trafford Park after its sale to the firm it sees as responsible for the demise of Debenhams.

Unite is asking for talks with consumers goods giant Unilever after its decision to sell its tea division, Ekaterra – which includes PG Tips – to CVC Capital Partners.

In 2003, CVC was part of a private consortium which bought Debenhams, before stripping of its assets and returning it to the stock market in 2006 with significant debts.

Debenhams went on to collapse in late 2020, with more than 100 stores later closing.

Unite's general secretary, Sharon Graham, blames CVC and their partners for Debenhams's fate, and fears for the future of the PG Tips factory in Trafford Park as a result.

She said: "The story of private equity buyouts in the UK very often has a fatal pattern of debt loading, asset stripping and job cuts as short-term shareholder dividends soar.

"We will not allow another case of corporate betrayal to ruin another iconic product.

"The sorry consequences of CVC’s so-called ‘investment’ in Debenhams, which crashed last December, are there for all to see with hundreds of shops shut and thousands of jobs gone.

"Unite will be demanding urgent meetings with management to ensure solid safeguards are in place in relation to employee job security, and their pay and conditions.

"We're determined the new business has a secure future in the UK and is not further broken up for a quick profit. We will be seeking a cast iron guarantee, in particular, for the future of the Trafford Park site."

Rhys McCarthy, national officer for Unite, added: “The UK is a nation of tea drinkers and the loyal consumers, who put PG Tips in their shopping basket every week, will expect UK workers are treated with decency and respect, not trampled over in the stampede for boardroom riches. Unite is determined to ensure the security and future of the workers are at the centre of this sale.

"We're seriously concerned CVC is a company with no track record in this sector and comes with a history of bringing instability and disinvestment to our high street.

"Unite has repeatedly urged Unilever not to succumb to the cult of quick growth that has wrecked so many sustainable businesses and the jobs that come with them simply to appease stock market players."

The Messenger has asked CVC and Unilever for comment.