The Italian Italpizza has bought the Buitoni factory in Caudry (North), implicated in the health scandal of contaminated pizzas and which Nestlé had announced would close in March 2023, we learned on Monday from the two groups. The Italian company specializing in the production of frozen pizzas, indicated in a press release that it had signed the purchase agreement for the factory on February 1.
Italpizza, which plans to restart production in the fall of 2024, plans more than twelve million euros of investments by 2028 to modernize the site. The group wishes to hire, before the end of 2028, “around 140 employees”. Last July, the factory management and the unions signed an employment protection plan (PSE) concerning the approximately 120 employees on the site, whose cessation of activity had been announced for December 31.
Nestlé, which had justified the closure by the fall in sales, emphasizes having offered each employee “at least one offer of reclassification within the group” and identified “more than 200 offers of positions to be filled externally (...) in a radius of 50 km around the factory.
The various right-wing mayor of Caudry, Frédéric Bricout, welcomed on Monday the takeover of the site by “a family business, a solid group”. According to him, Italpizza indicated that it was “in the logic of things” to give priority to former Nestlé employees, rather than looking elsewhere for new employees. Still according to Frédéric Bricout, around 90 ex-employees of the factory remained on the job at the end of November.
The location of the Caudry factory should allow Italpizza to “get closer to strong growth markets in Northern Europe”, welcomes the group's president, Cristian Pederzini, quoted in the press release. With a production capacity of 435 million pizzas per year, Italpizza employs 1,700 people and generates a turnover of "around 400 million euros, of which 60% on foreign markets spread across 60 countries", is -he summarized in the press release.
In operation since 1982, the Caudry factory manufactured Fraîch'Up frozen raw pizzas, suspected of having caused the death of two children and the poisoning of dozens of others by Escherichia coli bacteria. Italpizza intends to produce “exclusively pre-baked products”. A judicial investigation has been open since May 2022 in Paris for involuntary homicide in the case of two victims and involuntary injuries for 14 others, according to a judicial source. An agreement to compensate the victims, the amount of which was not disclosed, was signed last spring by Nestlé.