Diageo to invest £24.5 million upgrading east Belfast canning operation

Deirdre Delaney, operations manager at Diageo’s east Belfast packaging site.

GUINNESS-maker Diageo has announced plans to invest £24.5 million in its packaging facility in east Belfast.

The drinks giant said the upgrade in Belfast will see its canning production more than double, with the existing warehouses on the Castlereagh Road converted into a new state-of-the-art packaging line capable of producing 72,000 cans per hour.

Diageo said It’s part of a wider £40.5m investment to meet demand for Guinness products from domestic and export markets and specifically to support the growth of Guinness Draught and its more recent Guinness Zero and Guinness Nitrosurge product lines.

Around £16m is also to be invested at the group’s site in Runcorn to significantly upgrade its bottling line and expand warehousing capacity.

Diageo said it will enhance efficiency and competitiveness at both sites, with construction set to begin immediately. It said the upgraded production line in Belfast is expected to be fully operational by 2023.

Formerly known as Irish Bonding, the 12-acre packaging site has been active in east Belfast for at least 30 years with beer supplied directly from the Guinness Brewery at St James’ Gate in Dublin.

It employs 150 people, producing more than 20 Diageo brands from Harp and Hope House 13 to Smithwick’s and Rockshore.

Alongside the island of Ireland, the site exports to continental Europe, North America and Korea.

It’s the second major investment in canning manufacturing in Northern Ireland in recent months.

Global drinks can manufacturer Ardagh Metal Packaging (AMP) announced plans to develop a £150 million facility in Newtownabbey in November.

It’s expected to supply Coca-Cola HBC’s major canning operation in Lisburn along with customers in Ireland, Britain and in Europe.

Diageo’s operations director for beer, Aidan Crowe described its expansion as a significant investment in the development the group’s packaging facilities.

“The projects in Belfast and Runcorn will support our growth ambitions, helping us to deliver end-to-end product innovation, and reinforce our agility to meet demand and provide excellent service to our customers around the world,” he said.

Deirdre Delaney, operations manager at Diageo’s Belfast packaging site, added: “This is an exciting time for our site in Belfast as we invest in our business to support the growth of our business.

“We contribute considerably to the local economy in Belfast and the £24.5m investment will further support our supply chains and local communities.”

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