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Black news for Guinness staff

LESS than 24 hours after Barack Obama sipped a pint of the iconic black stuff, giving Guinness priceless publicity worldwide, the firm yesterday told employees that jobs will be cut to save €8m a year.

Drinks giant Diageo -- the parent company of Guinness -- is targeting redundancies in its 400-strong marketing operations division here as part of a Europe-wide reorganisation.

The marketing division represents almost a quarter of its 1,700 staff in Ireland.

Diageo refused to provide details on how many jobs will be cut.

But if the reductions in costs were delivered by redundancies it would suggest approximately 80 positions could be affected.

The manufacturing operations, which make Guinness, Smithwicks, Budweiser among other drinks, will not be affected. It was reported last night that Diageo was preparing to spend more than €1.4bn to buy Jose Cuervo tequila from its family owners.

Diageo already owns the international distribution rights for the drink.

The news of job cuts came the day after images of President Obama downing a pint of Guinness in Moneygall were beamed around the world.

Queen Elizabeth also visited the world famous brewery during her state visit last week.

Media analysts said the publicity garnered by the company by those events was equivalent to Guinness spending €23m on a global advertising campaign.

However, the company said the job cuts "would create "a more competitive, efficient and sustainable business" across Europe.

Company managing director John Kennedy claimed the cuts were necessary "to secure Diageo's success in Ireland".

He said Diageo was fully committed to Ireland but needed to make changes and would work with its employees to achieve the huge cost savings. "We will work closely with our employees and offer them every practical support," he added.

The majority of Guinness staff are employed at St James's Gate in Dublin, where around 800 are based. Another 235 are employed at the Bailey's Irish cream plant at Clondalkin and more than 100 work at its operations in Dundalk, the Smithwicks brewery in Kilkenny and the Bushmills distillery in Antrim. It also has a presence in Waterford.

The company says some key roles will be retained in Ireland. Mr Kennedy will become chief executive for Western Europe.

Guinness is not the only big brand owned by Diageo.

As well as Smithwicks and Baileys, it also counts Smirnoff vodka and Captain Morgan rum among its products while it brews Carlsberg and Budweiser under licence.

Two months ago Diageo's European president, Andrew Morgan, said the company would be reducing its marketing spend in Ireland which he described as a "low growth market".

Irish Independent