Whitbread closes brewery

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The Independent Online
ANOTHER wave of job cuts hit the drinks industry yesterday, with Whitbread making 321 redundant through closure of a brewery in Sheffield and a distribution depot in Marlow, writes John Shepherd.

The losses bring the total this week to more than 1,000, following the announcement on Tuesday by Guinness of 700 redundancies in Scotland.

Whitbread blamed increased competition in the aftermath of the Government's Beer Orders, which forced the big brewers to dispose of thousands of pubs. 'The keys to success now are quality of brands and cost control,' a spokesman said.

The main brands brewed at Sheffield, which can produce 450,000 barrels a year, are Trophy Bitter and Gold Label, a strong ale. Beers produced by the 186 staff will be transferred to Whitbread's five other breweries.

Similarly, distribution operations handled by 68 staff at Marlow will be absorbed by other depots in the South. The remaining job losses will largely be at Whitbread's brewing head office in Luton.

Unions in Scotland yesterday stepped up their pressure on Guinness. More than 20 shop stewards met in Glasgow, and unanimously agreed to contest the job cuts and closure of five distilleries by demanding a meeting with Tony Greener, chairman of Guinness.