UK: S&N shrugs off union claims over distribution deal

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Scottish & Newcastle has dismissed trade union claims that it failed to consult with employees over its new UK distribution joint venture with global logistics group Kuehne + Nagel.

The UK's largest brewer today (25 April) announced that it had joined forces with Kuehne + Nagel to form a distribution venture - KN Drinks Logistics (KNDL) - that will supply S&N's brands throughout the UK.

The Transport & General Workers Union (T&G), which represents 1,500 S&N workers who could be affected by the deal, reacted angrily to the move. T&G national organiser Brian Revell called the deal "a slap in the face" for the distribution workers and claimed that S&N had failed to allow workers to "explore alternative solutions through meaningful consultations".

However, an S&N spokesman said the group "flatly denied" Revell's claims. "We went through every process," the spokesman told just-drinks.

The spokesman said the deal would have "no impact" on jobs aside from "some overlap at management level". He added: "The idea is to grow the business - this is not two weak companies getting together but two strong companies aiming to grow and take on new contracts."

KNDL will become a subsidiary of Kuehne + Nagel UK with around 1,000 Kuehne + Nagel workers and some 1,900 S&N workers moving into the joint venture.

S&N said it expected to save GBP5m (US$8.9m) a year from shifting its distribution functions to KNDL, while it stands to receive around GBP30m for the transfer of its distribution assets into the venture.

The S&N spokesman said the move left the company free to focus on developing its stable of beer brands in the UK, including Foster's, Kronenbourg and Strongbow.

"There is no doubt that distribution is not a core function with us as it is with Kuehne + Nagel," he added.

Sectors: Beer & cider

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