Allied Domecq shifts HQ from London and cuts jobs

THE DRINKS group, Allied Domecq, yesterday announced plans to close down its headquarters in London's Portland Place it has occupied for a decade.

Allied moved into the four-storey listed building in 1990. But following the drawn-out sale of the group's pubs portfolio - eventually clinched by Punch Taverns - and recent speculation that its wine and spirits division is set to be swallowed up by Seagram, the decision has been taken to relocate Allied's operations to Bristol as part of a cost-cutting plan.

In addition to the move, 100 jobs will be shed to reduce Allied's corporate overheads. The company hopes to achieve annual cost savings of pounds 15m.

The central London office, with 25,000 sq ft of floor area, is staffed by 50 employees. Only 20 will transfer to the Bedminster, Bristol site that is the existing headquarters of Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine.

The combination of Allied's audit services, secretariat, human resources, tax, treasury, financial accounting and corporate affairs functions into one office is due to be completed by the end of the year. The decision means there will be 70 job losses among the company's 350 Bristol staff.

Philip Bowman, Allied's new chief executive, said: "It is our intention to create a substantially reduced corporate centre. The move to Bristol reflects our focus on improving shareholder value." Mr Bowman said the company will retain a small foothold in London close to Berkeley Square.

Allied shareholders meet on Monday to consider Punch Taverns' pounds 275m offer for its 3,500 UK pubs. Allied is selling its retail business to focus on liquor brands such as Ballantine's scotch and Kahlua liqueur. The company also owns food chains such as Baskin Robbins and Dunkin' Donuts.

Allied's shares closed down 12p at 537p.

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