Kraft Foods is to close its Cheltenham headquarters as the fallout from its merger with Cadbury continues.

The US manufacturer is shifting operations to Cadbury’s bases in Bournville and Uxbridge, while the confectioner’s Science Centre in Reading will become a “global science and technology centre” for the combined company.

The Dairylea maker will also relocate its customer service teams from Sheffield and Banbury in the coming 18 months.

Kraft UK president Nick Bunker (pictured) said he would be “very sad to leave Cheltenham” but claimed the changes represented a “vote of confidence in the UK”.

“The skills and facilities we have here will enable us to build the UK’s favourite snacks and confectionery company and to drive global innovation for two of Kraft Foods’ largest categories worldwide, namely chocolate and coffee,” he said.

“The business rationale is compelling. Having our R&D, customer service and support functions working side by side will enable us to share more insights and act more quickly.”

Last week Cadbury unveiled an 8% rise in like-for-like sales for the past three months, with sales at Kraft up 3%. The US giant has come in for criticism for its U-turn over the closure of Cadbury's Somerdale site, which Kraft had earlier pledged would remain open following the controversial takeover.

Bunker added: “The past few months have been an uncertain time for all employees. Despite this, we have continued to deliver strong growth. I am incredibly proud of what our people have achieved and I am confident that we have a phenomenal future together.”

Read more
Cadbury capture tops up Kraft coffers (7 May 2010)
Cadbury is 'most respected' in food and drink (28 April 2010)
Kraft insists 'no more lay-offs' after Somerdale apology (17 March 2010)