Diageo plant faces axe despite £2bn profit

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The Independent Online

Protesters attacked Diageo's plans to axe 900 whisky jobs after the drinks giant's reporting of a £2.02bn profit yesterday.

Diageo, whose brands include Smirnoff and Guinness, said it suffered a "challenging" year to June, with pre-tax profits slightly lower than last year.

It plans to close its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock with the loss of 700 jobs and shed a further 200 jobs from the Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow.

Scotland is one of Diageo's largest spirit supply centres, employing about 4,500 and producing nearly 50 million cases of Scotch whisky and white spirits.

Diageo said it will partially offset the planned cuts by creating 400 jobs at its packaging plant in Fife.

Diageo's chief executive, Paul Walsh, said: "The reality is that Scotch whisky's future lies beyond these shores, we have to penetrate new markets."

A cross-party campaign has been launched to try to persuade the firm to change Diageo's plans. The former cabinet minister Des Browne, MP for Kilmarnock, said the plant's closure "would be devastating for our town".