Whisky Firm Chivas Brothers Plans Huge Explansion

3 November 2016, 06:33 | Updated: 3 November 2016, 06:35

Whisky producer Chivas Brothers is to invest £40 million in its Dumbarton bottling plant as part of a huge expansion of the site.

The Scotch whisky and gin firm will move all its operations from Paisley to Kilmalid in Dumbarton and plans to invest in a new facility over the next three years.

The proposals include a purpose-built bottling hall and office which are expected to be completed by the end of 2019, providing a "more integrated and engaging environment'' for all Chivas Brothers workers.

The expansion is part of "an extensive review'' of the company's current operations and would see the closure of the Paisley site in three years' time.

The move from Paisley to Kilmalid is scheduled to start in 2018 and by the end of 2019 all Chivas Brothers employees based in Paisley would move over to work at the company's Kilmalid site - which already employs 600 people.

The new integrated operation will build on the company's 80-year history in Dumbarton.

Laurent Lacassagne, chairman and chief executive at Chivas Brothers, said: "This £40 million investment will enhance and improve our operations and support the development of our global and iconic brands.

"This is a project of significant size and scale for Chivas Brothers, which is why which we are announcing our proposal three years in advance.

"We want to provide ample opportunity to manage the transition of our business effectively and for our employees to adjust and adapt to working from a new site.

"We've been in Dumbarton for over 80 years and in that time we have forged close ties to the area and its people. We are proud to be part of this community and now hope to build an even deeper foundation here.''

Economy Secretary Keith Brown described the news as "hugely encouraging'', but said the loss of the Paisley site would have an impact on the local economy.

Mr Brown said: "The news of £40 million of new investment in Chivas Bros Dumbarton plant is hugely encouraging. It demonstrates confidence in the Scottish drinks industry and will be a boost to the Scottish economy.

"While it is encouraging that all employees at Paisley will be offered jobs at the new site, the loss of the Chivas site in Paisley and the effect on the local economy is clearly of concern.

"The First Minister spoke to the CEO of Chivas today and the Scottish Government is absolutely committed to working with the company, the local authority and local partners to do what we can to minimise local impact and explore positive opportunities for the Paisley economy for the future.''

Trade union Unite, which said it represents around 200 members at Chivas Brothers in Paisley, has called for reassurances in light of the announcement.

Regional officer Pat McIlvogue said: "It's fair to say that the first reaction of our members to this news was shock, closely followed by anxiety.

"We believe the company should have made an effort to talk with Unite's workplace representatives at Chivas in Paisley long before they made this huge announcement.

"The company has started a period of consultation on these proposals and we will be working with our members to get the answers they need going forward, and we will be looking for reassurances from the company around jobs, working conditions and the logistics of any proposed move.''