Drinks group Diageo axes 900 jobs

Around 900 jobs are being axed by drinks group Diageo in Scotland as part of an overhaul which will see the closure of its historic distillery at Port Dundas, it was announced today.

Diageo is shutting the distillery, which has been producing whisky since 1810, and is also closing a packaging plant at Kilmarnock in Ayrshire and outsourcing some of its warehousing operations.

The jobs will go over the next two years, but Diageo said changes in the region will also see 400 jobs created through the expansion of its packaging plant in Fife.

Diageo - the group behind brands including Guinness, Smirnoff vodka and Johnnie Walker whisky - is also restructuring its brewing operation in Ireland to cut costs, but is yet to reveal the impact on jobs or its three Irish breweries.

The group's restructuring in Scotland will mark the end of nearly 200 years of distilling at the Port Dundas operation in Glasgow.

Around 140 jobs will be lost when the distillery and its adjacent Dundashill Cooperage close, although Diageo is hoping to relocate some staff to a new cooperage in central Scotland.

Diageo said its "long-term grain whisky requirements can be best met" at the group's Cameronbridge distillery in Fife, which is being expanded.

The decision to close its Kilmarnock packaging plant and consolidate operations in its other two facilities in Glasgow and Fife will have the biggest impact on jobs, with 700 roles to go by the end of 2011.

It hopes to transfer a number of axed positions to the Fife plant, which is being expanded under an £86 million scheme.

Changes at its Shieldhall packaging plant in Glasgow will also lead to 30 job losses, said Diageo.

And the group is relocating around 80 office-based staff from Dundas House in Glasgow to another location in central Scotland over the next two years.

Outsourcing deals for its Hurlford consolidation warehouse in Ayrshire and Speyside haulage operation for distillery co-products are set to see 80 jobs transferred.

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