Job fears as Mull distillery to close for refurbishment
FEARS have been raised that jobs could be lost at Tobermory Distillery on the Isle of Mull.
Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell has written to the owners voicing his concerns after it was announced this week that the plant is to close for two years.
In a statement on Monday, South African producer Distell Group Ltd said it is ‘planning to invest in the distillery and its visitor centre, and will stop production on Friday March 31 for a period of up to 24 months. However, the visitor centre will remain open and continue to welcome guests and host tours throughout this period.’
There are currently seven people employed at the distillery, and a spokeswoman for Distell Group said: ‘A consultation process has just begun with staff and the intention is to protect jobs as far as possible.’
However, Mr Russell said: ‘ While I welcome the investment, I am concerned about the indication of job losses that is implicit in the announcement.
‘I am very concerned about the potential for job losses and I have asked the company to be much clearer about that issue and to ensure that the hard work and loyalty of its exceptional workforce is rewarded and sustained by investment, not threatened by it.’
Commenting on the plans for Tobermory, Distell’s European managing director, Fraser Thornton, said: ‘ We recognise the time during the refurbishment will create substantial change for the distillery team and that is why we have come up with different options to accommodate people’s personal situations and continue to financially support them during this time.
‘ Whisky tourism continues to thrive with numbers across the industry increasing on average by 20 per cent over the past five years. Tobermory has demonstrated even stronger growth in visitors, and we want to invest in the only distillery on the island and continue to ensure it produces some of the best island malts in Scotland, as well as a truly memorable experience for visitors.
‘ We are delighted to have a new general manager for malts joining us in the coming weeks who will provide some fresh impetus for our malt portfolio generally and Tobermory and Ledaig specifically. An exciting new chapter will be revealed at the end of this and we want everyone to continue to be part of this journey.’
The Distell spokeswoman added: ‘ The distillery is very unusual in that it operates two production cycles during the year in order to produce both Tobermory and Ledaig malts.
‘ These are both well-known and respected brands in the international whisky arena and Distell intends to invest further in their future as premium malts following the upgrade.
‘Sales of Ledaig 10-year- old and 18-year- old will continue, with Tobermory 10-year- old being available to purchase from the visitor centre. A range of limited editions from both brands will be released over the next two years.’
Tobermory Distillery will shut down for two years.