The Dutch brewer Heineken Holding N.V, has announced that its subsidiary Heineken Nederlands Beheer is to undergo a significant restructuring, which will result in the loss of 450 jobs over the next two years.

The company said the move was being taken to "safeguard its long-term business development."

In a statement the company said that an agreement was reached with the trade unions on a 'social plan' at the end of 2002. To cover costs of reorganisation, Heineken Holding N.V. will make provisions of approximately €70m before tax and before minority interests, which will be charged to the 2003 Profit and Loss account. It is expected that these costs will be recovered in three years.

The changes will involve all divisions of Heineken in the Netherlands and will affect personnel at all levels.

"The emphasis in all cases will be on improving efficiency and cutting costs, which will mean centralising a number of support departments. To minimise the impact on the personnel, the plan agreed between Heineken and the trade unions at the end of 2002 guarantees that the employees affected will be given full assistance, for a year to eighteen months, to find new jobs, in the first instance within Heineken and, if that cannot be arranged, outside the company," the statement said.

"With the gradual structural decline in the Dutch beer market expected to continue, Heineken is convinced that the proposed measures are necessary to maintain its leading position in the Netherlands," it said.