Scottish & Newcastle To Close English Brewery

Maker of beer brands Foster’s and Kronenbourg 1664 has sold a brewery in southern England, potentially cutting 360 jobs.

LONDON (AP) — Scottish & Newcastle PLC will close a brewery in southern England, with the potential loss of more than 360 jobs, the company said Tuesday.

S&N — which is being bought by European rivals Heineken and Carlsberg for 7.8 billion pounds (euro10.4 billion; US$15.3 billion) — said the site on the outskirts of Reading would close by early 2010.

Scottish & Newcastle, the maker of beer brands such as Foster's and Kronenbourg 1664, said the closure of the brewery, which opened in 1979, was the ''most viable option going forward.''

''The nature of the Reading site, the amount of investment required to make it competitive and its relative cost compared to other U.K. facilities means that there is a strong business case for closure,'' Stephen Glancey, the company's group operations director, said in a statement.

''We will, of course, do all we can to mitigate the effects of the closure'' on the 362 employees, he said, without explaining how.

In November, the company closed a bottling plant at the Reading site, costing about 250 jobs.

S&N also has closed other breweries in England and Scotland in recent years to cut costs.

The brewer said the latest move would address a ''general overcapacity'' in the British brewing sector, and save the company about 13 million pounds (US$25 million, euro17.5 million) a year.

Iain MacLean, national officer of Unite, said the union would oppose the closure.

''At this point we cannot rule out industrial action,'' MacLean said.

''Management have failed to provide the union with a rational business case for this closure.''
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