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Scottish & Newcastle Announces Closure of Edinburgh Brewery

Posted to the IUF website 24-Feb-2004

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Scottish and Newcastle PLC (S&N) have announced that they wish to end a 255 year brewing tradition in Scotland by closing the Fountain Brewery in Edinburgh. The workforce and the Transport & General Workers' Union (T&G) learned of the company's plans on Tuesday 17, and are mobilizing to keep the plant open.

The brewery continues to be profitable and the planned closure would appear to be linked to pressure from the City of London on the company to reduce its number of breweries. The brewery's location in central Edinburgh would also fetch a high price on the real estate market.

"It is a decision which does not make sense", said T&G National Organiser Brian Revell. "Fountain is a profitable brewery which connects the company with its Scottish roots. In future all lager beers will have to be imported from England."

Revell also criticized Scottish and Newcastle's announcement of a proposed joint venture with the microbrewer Caledonian. "The so-called joint venture with Caledonian is merely a fig leaf to seek to mollify Scottish consumers," Revell said. The company purchased a 30% stake in Caledonian but there would be no automatic right for fountain workers to transfer they would have to be laid off first and then apply for a job at the new joint venture.

The T&G will be working with the IUF to coordinate opposition to the proposed Edinburgh closure.

Scottish & Newcastle's planned closure of its landmark brewery in Edinburgh demonstrates how far the company has moved away from its local roots. S&N is now the 2nd largest European brewer, with major operations in the UK Scottish Courage), France (Kronenbourg), Belgium (Alken-Maes), Finland (Hartwall), Portugal (Central de Cervejas) and Greece (Mythos). Its 50-50 joint venture with Carlsberg, BBH, is market leader in Russia and the Baltic States. It also operates on a large scale in India (United Breweries) and has recently made a move into China.