New Diageo site will create 50 jobs and free up space for more Guinness production at St James’s Gate
Diageo is to build the second-biggest brewery in Ireland, moving a large chunk of its beer and ale production out of Dublin.
The carbon-neutral plant in Co Kildare is expected to be in operation by 2024.
Many of the drinks giant’s beers and ales – including Rockshore, Harp, Hop House 13, Carlsberg, Kilkenny and Smithwick’s – will move from St James’s Gate to a new site in Littleconnell, Newbridge.
But Guinness production will remain at St James’s Gate.
The €200m investment will also see the creation of at least 50 jobs. Once completed, the Littleconnell facility will be the second-biggest brewery in Ireland, after St James’s Gate.
“Kildare ticks a number of boxes,” said Colin O’Brien, Diageo’s category head for global beer supply.
“There is a great road network, there is good access to Dublin Port, it’s really close to our main supplier of malt and we’re in the barley-growing region, so that’s really good as well.
“Also, there’s kind of a heritage link with Kildare as Arthur Guinness was born there.”
The new site will be fully powered by renewable energy, and Diageo will invest in technologies that promote heat recovery and water reuse.
It is also looking to upgrade the energy and water systems at St James’s Gate, including through the use of electric boilers and biogas.
The 50 jobs to be created in Littleconnell will include process technicians, brewers, lab technicians, managers and facilities and security staff.
Diageo hopes to recruit the new workers mainly from Ireland.
The project will create 1,000 temporary construction jobs in the area.
“We have a long track record of recruiting from the community we operate in and it will be no different in Kildare,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Definitely, we have the talent in Ireland to do the jobs we will be recruiting for, and in Kildare itself. That will be our primary focus.”
Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar said the investment “is really great news for the future development of Ireland’s thriving food and drink industry, and for the wider national economy”.
“It’s also extremely positive for Newbridge and the local economy in Kildare,” he added.
Diageo, which will announce its full-year results at the end of this month, saw double-digit growth in organic net sales last year, with Scotch, tequila and beer performing strongest.
The new Kildare plant will serve all of Diageo’s 150 export markets while freeing up production space at St James’s Gate for a boost in sales of its non-alcoholic alternative, Guinness Zero, and the “nitrosurge” pouring device.
Around 35pc of Diageo’s ales and lagers and 70pc of stouts produced in Ireland are exported.
“Some of the innovations we’ve launched have been really, really successful and we’re looking forward to rolling those out globally,” Mr O’Brien said.
Diageo also hopes to offset rising inflation with cost savings on energy at the Kildare plant.
“We are used to dealing with inflation,” Mr O’Brien said. “It goes hand in hand with what we’re doing around carbon reduction.”
Diageo intends to submit a planning application to Kildare County Council late next month or in September and aims to start brewing at the facility in the second half of 2024.