Poor trading forces brewery job cuts

DRAYMEN - who for decades have been a key part of Suffolk's brewing heritage - face the axe because of difficult trading conditions at one of the county's biggest firms, it emerged last night.

Laurence Cawley

DRAYMEN - who for decades have been a key part of Suffolk's brewing heritage - face the axe because of difficult trading conditions at one of the county's biggest firms, it emerged last night.

Greene King, whose May and June sales were down 3%, hopes the job losses will be voluntary and kept to a minimum at its Bury St Edmunds base.

The firm is looking to axe up to 17 jobs from its warehousing and distribution operation, which includes its team of centuries-old draymen who for generations have delivered ale to pubs first by cart later by lorry.


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The firm currently employs 650 staff at their Bury base.

Townspeople last night told of their sadness that the historic draymen would be among those losing their jobs.

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Sarah Green, vice chairman of the Bury St Edmunds Society, said Green King was “the lifeblood” of Bury and called on the firm to ensure it did its utmost to treat those it was letting go well. She said the draymen had been an integral part of the town's history and had been a vital part of the town's public house heritage over the decades.

“It is always sad to see this side of the business diminishing. Let's hope the workers get a good deal,” she said.

Justin Adams, managing director of the Greene King Brewing Company, said: “We will keep the number of job losses to an absolute minimum, but it may be up to 17 (less than 3% of our Bury based staff). It looks as though we'll be able to manage them through voluntary redundancy.

“We have a great team of people in our distribution operations and are genuinely sad about the prospect of losing some of them. We will do our utmost to support them in finding work elsewhere.

“No-one can have failed to notice that things have been going up in price. Families and businesses are all affected by the rising cost of energy and fuel, and Greene King is no exception. We're always looking for ways of doing things more efficiently and in the current economic climate that involves making some tough decisions.

“Pub business varies according to days of the week and seasons of the year and our delivery patterns need to better reflect these changing requirements. Additionally, some pubs are now ordering less and we have to cut our cloth according to our means. We have therefore searched for - and found - a way of managing our warehousing and distribution in a more effective way. It involves fewer people, which means that a number of jobs in this area are at risk.

One publican in the town said: “Of course they're important, they deliver the beer. I don't know what will happen next.”

Another licensee said he had heard about the changes but was uncertain what the new arrangements would be for beer delivery.

John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “Obviously Greene King is a very important part of the fabric of Bury as are the draymen. We are very sorry to hear this news but appreciate the difficult environment that Greene King and other businesses are experiencing.”

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