Historic Leeds brewery to close

Click to follow

Drinks giant Carlsberg is planning to close a historic brewery in the UK with the loss of 170 jobs, it was announced today.

The company blamed falling consumption, higher duties and regulatory pressure for the decision to shut its Leeds site in 2011.

Consultation with the workers will start immediately and Carlsberg said it will seek to redeploy staff where possible as well as help others find new jobs.

There has been a brewery on the site in the city since 1822 when it used to produce just Tetley beers.

The brewery now produces Tetley and Carlsberg and is one of two owned by Carlsberg. The other site is at Northampton.

Nick Webb, supply chain director of Carlsberg UK, said: "We are announcing the closure proposal more than two years in advance so that our employees are able to prepare for the future.

"We have to consider difficult decisions to remain competitive in the current environment and we regret the risk to the jobs of our employees.

"Although the business has remained robust in tough market conditions, this proposed move is vital to ensure Carlsberg UK remains a strong and sustainable business in the future."

The company said it needed to maximise efficiency to remain competitive in the face of increasingly challenging market conditions, adding: "Unfortunately, in this environment it can no longer justify running two major breweries in the UK."

Carlsberg marketing director Darran Britton said the company was facing "unprecedented" pressures because of falling sales, pub closures, and increased costs coupled with the current economic downturn.

The beer market generally has been falling for a number of years but sales have slumped by between 7 per cent and 8 per cent in recent months, he said.

"Five pubs are closing every day and it is a trend which is accelerating."

Mr Britton said the company would continue brewing Tetley beer, preferably elsewhere in Yorkshire, if not somewhere in the north of England but "definitely" in the UK.

The company gave no details of what it would do with the historic city centre site and could not say how many workers will be redeployed either to its other brewery or distribution sites.

Mr Britton said the Leeds brewery was less efficient than Northampton but he said the closure decision was no reflection on the workers.

"It is a reality of the market - people are drinking less beer."

Workers leaving the nightshift this morning and those arriving for the day shift were given the grim news by managers.

Mr Britton said Tetley would continue with its marketing arrangements, including sponsorship of rugby league teams Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls.

It is estimated that more than 30 breweries have closed in the UK over the past decade.

Tim Roache, regional secretary of the GMB union, which represents workers at the site, said: "This is very disappointing news.

"We will be seeking talks with Carlsberg to see if there is anything that can be done to change their minds about closing this historic brewery".