Heineken is to axe just over 200 jobs in France by 2007 as it adapts production levels to the steady decline in demand.

Beer consumption fell by 6% last year in keeping with the long-term downward trend in the sector.

While the Dutch brewer's cutbacks programme does not make provision for the closure of any of its French plants, staff numbers at three sites - Mons en Baroeul, in the north, Schiltigheim (Alsace) and Marseilles - are to be reduced in order to improve competitiveness. Jobs at the St Omer plant, in northern France, will be unaffected.

The Dutch brewer employs a total of 3,000 staff in France.

In September 2003 Heineken announced that its subsidiary Heineken Nederlands Beheer was to undergo a significant restructuring, which would result in the loss of 450 jobs over a two year period.