ALMOST a quarter of the 400 jobs in Guinness maker Diageo Ireland’s support divisions could be lost under a restructuring of the brewer’s European operations.
Staff were briefed on the plans yesterday, understood to be aimed at cutting €8 million from annual payroll costs. This is believed to equate to around one-fifth of costs in the affected areas, meaning the potential loss of at least 80 jobs.
Out of 1,700 people employed by Diageo in the Republic and Northern Ireland, 400 work in the areas to be impacted, including sales, marketing and support roles such as human resources and finance. Most of these staff are based at Diageo Ireland’s Dublin headquarters at St James’s Gate.
Managing director John Kennedy said the changes will not affect manufacturing operations here. As well as Dublin, the company has brewing facilities in Kilkenny and in Northern Ireland.
“Diageo is fully committed to Ireland, and has very significant operations here that are an essential element of our company’s operations globally. However, we do need to make changes and deliver greater efficiencies in some of the support functions of the business.” Mr Kennedy said.
“These changes, which are being carried out across Europe, follow months of careful analysis and consideration. The announcement today is difficult and we fully appreciate the impact this may have on some of our employees and their families,” he said.
The company is to begin consultations with employees and union representatives, and a spokesperson said it could be weeks or months before the process is concluded.
“We will work closely with our employees and offer them every practical support through what will be a difficult period. However, the changes are absolutely essential to ensure that Diageo has a competitive and sustainable business in Ireland,” Mr Kennedy said.
The Guinness Staff Union could not be reached for comment yesterday.
In February, Diageo Ireland reported a 5% decrease in net sales in the last six months of 2010, with net sales of Guinness down 8%. The stout brand’s sales declined due to weakness in the pub trade, less frequent consumption by core customers and a shift to the off-trade.
The developments come after a week in which the Guinness brand reached a global audience through the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the Guinness Storehouse and US President Barack Obama’s enjoyment of a pint of Guinness in Moneygall, Co Offaly on Monday.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved