A coffee company is to close part of its Oxfordshire factory putting up to 280 jobs at risk.

Jacobs Douwe Egberts  is set to close the processing part of its factory in Banbury and make it a packing facility.

The research and development labs will also close with work transferring to the company's Dutch operation.

JDE said the decision 'has not been taken lightly' but the factory was 'the least cost competitive' processing facility in its network.

Unite union described it as 'devastating news for its workers'.

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A JDE spokesperson said: “We have today announced proposed changes to JDE’s Banbury factory.

"We are proposing to close the processing part of the site and focus solely on becoming a specialist coffee packing facility.

"This is an important and necessary change, enabling Banbury to remain a key facility in the JDE network."

He added: “The industry is operating in a challenging economic environment and there is an overcapacity of freeze-dried coffee in our European factories which is expected to remain.

“Banbury has been, and continues to be, the least cost competitive factory in our network to process coffee.

"This means that changes must be made to improve the competitiveness of the site.

“Regrettably, this means that circa 250 roles will be at risk of redundancy.

"We are also proposing to close the R&D facility at Banbury which will impact a further 30 roles.

If the proposals move forward, it is expected that 134 roles will remain at the site, said JDE.

Consultations over the proposals will start on November 28 for a minimum of 45 days.

Unite national officer Paul Travers said: “The potential loss of so many JDE jobs is devastating news for its workers and Banbury as a whole.

"Unite will be offering support to our members at this difficult time. 

“We will now be entering consultations with JDE and will leave no stone unturned in seeking alternative plans that are less damaging than the ones put forward. 

“If jobs do have to go, we will ensure our members’ best interests are the priority, including negotiating against compulsory redundancies and for the best possible severance packages.”  

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Following the shock announcement this morning, Banbury MP Victoria Prentis said she would be meeting with the plant director later this week and urged concerned constituents to get in touch.

She added: "I know this will not have been an easy decision for the management to come to, but JDE like many other companies are faced with having to adapt to some of the challenges associated with rapid advances in technology.

"While this has come as disappointing news given how important the factory is to our town, no official decision has been made at this point.

“I will be speaking to the Plant Director later this week to discuss their plans in better detail.”