Diageo to axe 900 Scotch whisky jobs

DRINKS giant Diageo said yesterday that a total of 900 jobs will be axed in Scotland as part of a restructuring drive designed to help the company through the downturn.<br /><br />Diageo will close its packaging plant at Kilmarnock, where around 700 people are employed, as well as shutting down its 200-year-old grain spirit distillery and cooperage at Port Dundas, Glasgow.<br /><br />But the firm added it would also invest in a new bottling plant at its existing facilities in Fife, creating roughly 400 new jobs.<br /><br />The plans, which are in addition to the restructuring proposals Diageo announced in February, are expected to generate cost savings of around &pound;120m in the 2009/10 financial year and an additional &pound;40m in the year ending June 2012.<br /><br />Diageo, which owns the Johnnie Walker, Bell&rsquo;s and Talisker brands, said the restructuring north of the border was &ldquo;completely unrelated&rdquo; to any fall in the level of demand for Scotch whisky, which represents around a quarter of total UK food and drink exports each year.<br /><br />A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said: &ldquo;The industry is working hard to invest to secure its sustainability and competitiveness&hellip;We continue to believe whisky has a strong long term future.&rdquo;<br /><br />Diageo also said yesterday it is carrying out a review of restructuring plans for its brewing operations in Ireland. The company announced last year it would be selling part of its Guinness brewery in Dublin and building another site outside the city.