Sinistrose in Cambrésis. After the announcement of the closure of Tereos, in Escaudoeuvres, and the suspension of activity at Buitoni, in Caudry, the territory of Cambrai, in the North, is undergoing an economic and social storm: nearly 300 jobs are directly at stake. Bad news for the territory, which was nevertheless regaining hope with the installation of the gigantic E-Valley logistics park and the ambitious Seine-Nord canal project. 20 minutes try to make a point
“It’s been a long time since we had two tasks like that in Cambrésis”, laments Charles Blangis, vice-president of the chamber of commerce (CCI) in charge of the territory. The entrepreneur displays, however, an unfailing optimism. ” E-Valley, on the former air base, things are going well with big companies like La Redoute who come to set up their logistics center there. It’s a wonderful spotlight. Soon, industrial projects are also likely to see the light of day,” he believes.
Former flagship of the food industry
The advantage of Cambrésis, according to him, is the motorway junction. “We are far from major cities, but the proximity of two major highways helps us,” explains Charles Blangis. In fact, the last ten years have seen a rebound in employment in Cambresis, with a gain of around 10%, according to INSEE. The unemployment rate, which had continued to rise until 2015, stabilized. Only downside: the population is aging inexorably.
Problem, the recent closure announcements affect symbolic sectors. In Caudry, the Buitoni factory, which was inaugurated in 1980, has long been presented as a flagship of the food industry. Forty years and a change of ownership later, it seems to be paying the price for a repositioning of Nestlé. “The group is getting rid of its junk food signs. We have the impression of an unwillingness to restart after the food scandal of frozen pizzas”, does not hesitate to denounce Frédéric Bricout, the mayor of Caudry.
The end of the Buitoni factory would certainly be an ugly signal, but the city still retains a large industrial activity with L’Oréal, which employs around 450 people and lace, the city’s historic activity, where some 500 people still work. . This is not the case with Escaudoeuvres, 15 km away. The announcement of the closure of the Tereos sugar factory on March 8, a few days after that of Buitoni, had the effect of a “detonation”, underlines the mayor, Thierry Bouteman.
World number one at the end of the 19th century
In this town of 3,000 inhabitants, attached to Cambrai, the factory was to celebrate its 150th anniversary last week. “Everything was ready, we had prepared the festivities with the factory managers. We had to cancel everything. At no time did they warn us of this closure project, even though the decision was not taken overnight, ”regrets Thierry Bouteman.
It is above all a symbol that is dying out because the Escaudoeuvres sugar refinery was the last in the department still in operation. At the end of the 19th century, it was even the world’s number one site for the production of sugar from beets, as explained a France Culture podcast. And long before the appearance of the sugar beet industry, we were already refining sugar at the end of the 17th centuryin the North and especially in Lille.
The end of this activity is also likely to have significant collateral effects. According to the unions, the disappearance of each job at Tereos will eliminate 13 others. Not to mention the seasonal workers, about 120 people, who worked in the fall when the beets were harvested.
“It’s a whole territory that is affected, in particular, farmers who used to supply themselves with beet pulp to feed their cows”, worries the mayor. Even if the latter still believes in the maintenance of an activity on the site, he feels “a lot of anger and disappointment, with the impression of having been betrayed”.