Irish whiskey distillery Bushmills is considering making a third of its visitor centre staff redundant due to Covid-19.
The Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland has entered into consultation with 14 workers at its visitor centre, which has been closed since 18 March because of the pandemic. The site in County Antrim employs more than 100 people.
While the company did not confirm the number of potential redundancies, it said the consultation could result in up to five job losses. Production and support staff will not be affected.
Bushmills said it hopes to reduce staff numbers through voluntary redundancy, with the consultation due to be completed by 12 November. The remaining visitor centre workers will be redeployed across the company, Bushmills said.
The company said in a statement: “While sales of Bushmills Irish whiskey in global markets are performing strongly, the company is not immune from the effects of the global pandemic and we are taking this step with a heavy heart.
“The visitor experience at Old Bushmills Distillery involves members of the public visiting production areas and meeting our production staff. Regrettably, under current Covid-19 guidelines, we cannot foresee when we might be able to resume our distillery tours.”
Bushmills also said it plans to continue to invest in the expansion of its distillery. In April last year, Bushmills was granted planning permission to build a second facility at its existing site.
The pandemic has seen a number of spirits firms reduce staff numbers in recent months.
William Grant & Sons closed its Tullamore Dew visitor centre in Ireland this month putting 14 jobs at risk of redundancy.
In August, UK-based Halewood Wines & Spirits announced plans to close its headquarters in Huyton and make a number of additional voluntary redundancies.