Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) today announced its plan to close its Berkshire Brewery near Reading by early 2010. The brewer said it would immediately begin consultation with employees at the site, who will be affected by the closure.

Last year in November the company announced it was closing bottling facilities at the site and that three million hectolitres of production would be transferred to Coors Brewers Ltd.

S&N said it had carried out a detailed review of the site and came to the conclusion that closure was the most viable option. The company said that they had shared their plans with Heineken & Carlsberg consortium as part of due diligence. Heineken and Carslberg agreed to buy S&N in January for £7.8 billion.

S&N said it planned to transfer residual brewing and packaging work progressively to its other sites such as Tadcaster in Yorkshire and the Royal Brewery in Manchester and Dunston.

According to S&N these changes would save a net £13 million per annum from it's cost base and so allow the group to remain competitive in the UK market.

The group said it would make every effort to find alternative employment for those affected by the closure of the Berkshire Brewery.

In a statement, Stephen Glancey, S&N Group Operations Director said, It is well documented that there is general over capacity in the UK brewing sector, and these proposals have been put in place to address this issue.

The nature of the Reading site, the amount of investment required to make it competitive and its relative cost compared to other UK facilities means that there is a strong business case for closure.