Wincanton has lost a long-standing distribution contract with Lucozade and Ribena maker Suntory, prompting concern among hundreds of staff uncertain about their future.

The logistics giant has operated a transport and warehousing service for Suntory since the 1990s and currently runs out of the drinks maker’s factory in Coleford in the Forest of Dean, as well as Wincanton’s depot in Brockworth on the Gloucester business park.

The contract will end on 31 December and around 280 staff are expected to be TUPEd over to new supplier DHL Supply Chain.

A Wincanton spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that our contract with Suntory will be ending as the customer has chosen to move operations to a new location.

“We are proud to have supported Suntory with an excellent service over the time we have worked together.”

“We are conscious of the uncertainty this transfer causes for our colleagues. A TUPE process will be commencing with the new service provider and we will work to support all affected colleagues in the coming weeks and months.”

Usdaw, the union of shop, distributive and allied workers, said its members were shocked by the decision and the timing could not be worse: “We will now enter into a consultation process with the company, where we will look at the case for the closure and seek the best possible outcome for our members,” said Usdaw area organiser Steve Newman.

“It is extremely distressing for the staff, after 20 years at this site, it couldn’t come at a worse time with the cost of living crisis and Christmas fast approaching.

“We are providing our members with the advice, support and representation they need at this difficult time.”

Suntory confirmed the partnership with Wincanton would come to an end at the end of the year.

A spokesman said: “We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Wincanton for the long and collaborative years of service. We will be working closely with Wincanton during the coming days and weeks to support them on their planning requirements and to ensure a smooth transition to our new delivery and warehouse supplier.

“All impacted Wincanton employees are subject to a legal employment process which sits between Wincanton, their current employer, and our new supplier. We will respect the TUPE process to the letter and cannot share any more.”

DHL was unable to respond as we went to press.