Diageo announced that they will spend millions on a new brewery near Dublin, but Guinness fans in Britain and Ireland will still get their dark beer from the historic brewery in the heart of the Irish capital.
The London-based beer and spirits maker said today it will renovate its central Dublin brewery at St James’s Gate to supply local and regional accounts, but will close two smaller sites by 2013 and cut its Irish brewery workforce by more than half. Diageo had considered closing the downtown brewery and developing the sprawling site into business space as Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” economic boom has increased the vitality and value of Dublin’s landscape.
In five years, when the new brewery opens after an investment of $1 billion and smaller ones at Kilkenny and Dundalk are closed, Diageo says its Irish brewing workforce will be cut by 250 from its current 450.
The move means a reprieve for the St James’s Gate site near the River Liffey, where Arthur Guinness started brewing his stout beer in 1759 after purchasing the dormant brewery with 100 pounds he had been left in his godfather’s will.
“Every option was looked at. That includes the closure of St James’s Gate. We did some research, we listened to our consumers, we heard what everybody said and we understand the importance of St James’s Gate,” David Gosnell, Diageo’s global supply director, told a Dublin news conference.
Diageo Chief Executive Paul Walsh said the move had been prompted by efficiency gains to be made by focusing most of its Irish beer production on one site, and also to meet the growing export demand for Guinness especially from Africa and Asia.
The new brewery site has yet to be determined and the group is looking at a number of options. The move will raise its Irish annual brewery capacity by 20 percent to 9 million hectolitres, with 6 million from the new brewery. The new Greenfield brewery will produce Guinness for export and other beers such as Harp and Smithwick’s for the Irish market, while the Guinness Storehouse, Ireland’s leading visitor attraction, will remain on the St James’s Gate site.