£5m Diageo expansion for Leven’s ‘luxuries’...

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DRINKS giant Diageo has announced that work has begun on another £5 million phase of expansion at Banbeath.

A new ‘luxury products’ bottling plant is expected to create another 30 permanent jobs at the Banbeath site – which is already Levenmouth’s biggest employer.

The project was officially ‘green-lighted’ after Fife Council recently awarded the firm full planning permission.

John Paterson, Site Director Leven commented: “We were granted planning permission in early October to enable us to further expand our bottling facilities on site to ensure that we have the capacity to meet future demands.

“This work, is part of our overall restructuring plans that will ensure the long-term sustainability of our operations in Scotland.

“It builds on the £86 million already invested in the site alongside the creation of some additional 400 full time equivalent jobs.

“It represents a further £5 million investment and also a number of additional jobs will be created.

“Construction has commenced and is due to be completed in the summer of 2012”.

At a size of around 3300 square metres, the new bottling plant will be built between the older bottling buildings and the new bottling hall which has already been completed by the firm ISG.

The building will concentrate on bottling top-end spirits, mainly whisky, for export sale to emerging markets such as Asia.

Since the luxury goods operation involves bottling spirits in smaller, more select, volumes, it has to operate separately from the main bottling hall process.

It is expected that the additional plant will create another ten HGV movements to the site per week.

Plans to begin a massive £86 million development of the Banbeath site were first announced by the drinks giant in July 2009.

The restructuring and expansion of Diageo’s packaging base at Leven – currently in advanced construction and nearing completion - is expected to create around 400 long-term jobs.

The range of facilities included the erection of a new bottling hall with associated infrastructure and tanks, the construction of a new roundabout on the A915, the formation of a staff car park, engineering works and landscaping.

Although the bottling hall has been built, the installation of lines will be gradually introduced and is expected to be fully operational in the summer of 2012.

Over the past two years, construction work has created around 200 jobs.

However, Leven’s good luck was tempered by the fact that, as part of its restructuring of bottling operations across Scotland, Diageo chose to close sites in Kilmarnock and Port Dundas.

That decision cost 900 people their jobs, albeit some were given the option to relocate to Levenmouth.