Staff from Cumnock's Caledonian Bottlers which closed at the end of 2022 have been helped to find their next steps in employment.

The factory officially closed in December 2022, with a handful of staff staying on until end of March 2023 to decommission the site.

Throughout its 25 years, it became famous for its production of WKD, as well as Irn Bru.

Now the staff have been getting help with their next step in employment thanks to Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE), the Scottish Government’s initiative dedicated to helping employers and individuals dealing with redundancy. 

Karen Mennie is General Manager at Caledonian Bottlers and has been with the company for 13 years.

Speaking to Skills Development Scotland, she said: “We had been advised about PACE and the support that they could provide to staff being made redundant, and our head office based down south arranged for PACE to come on site to speak to staff.”

“The staff had time to speak to the PACE advisers about what was available to them, and more recently had someone in to speak to them about what training they’d be able to get support with to help them move into a new job. That’s been really useful.”

Karen added: “Redundancy is a time where there’s a rollercoaster of emotions and people deal with the redundancy process in different ways.

"There are people who have been here for a long time and are hurt that they’re losing their jobs. PACE has been able to help alleviate a lot of worries for some of the staff.

“The support from PACE has really benefitted the staff who have been quite engaged with the PACE team. The majority of staff have new jobs, which is fantastic.”

“I would 100 per cent recommend other businesses to involve PACE to help staff through redundancy. The PACE team have offered staff a variety of avenues to people by giving them information about things like pensions, how to make a claim for benefits, training etc, and advised on other job opportunities available in the area.”

And what’s next for Karen when her role at the plant comes to an end? “I’m going to have a well-earned rest, and then I’ll consider what I’d like to do after that.”

Vincent Logue, Team Leader with Skills Development Scotland and local PACE Chair added: “It’s always a challenge for PACE to support an employer and their staff when a site is closing. It is great credit to Karen, the employee representatives’ group and all staff within Caledonian Bottlers that delivery was so successful.

Staff were receptive to our delivery options, the PACE team worked closely with everyone locally to tailor our services to meet the needs of all individuals who required support.”