Scottish & Newcastle has announced its intention to close its Berkshire brewery in the next two years.

The brewer said today (12 February) that it will begin consultations with workers and offer full support for the 362 employees affected by the closure of the facility, based near Reading.

Following "a detailed review" of the site, the S&N said that it will gradually transfer its brewing and packaging operations to its other sites including Tadcaster in Yorkshire, the Royal Brewery in Manchester and Dunston, Gateshead.

If fully implemented, S&N claims it could make an annual saving of GBP13m (US$25m), thus enabling it "to remain competitive within the UK marketplace".

S&N has outlined that every effort will be made to seek alternative employment for those affected by the closure, including outplacement support, re-training and redeployment as well as working with agencies to minimise the impact on the local economy.

S&N group operations director Stephen Glancey said: "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. We will, of course, do all we can to mitigate the effects of the closure on the people affected."

Briefings with employees will begin today, while talks with union representatives will commence over the course of the week.

Last November, S&N announced the closure of bottling facilities at the same site, as well as plans to transfer 3m hectolitres of production to Coors Brewers under a contract brewing agreement.