Interbrew has reacted to the declining cask ale market by announcing it plans to close the Boddingtons brewery in Manchester. The famous Strangeways site, where ale has been brewed since the 18th Century, is scheduled to shut by the end of February 2005 with the loss of 55 jobs.

Interbrew hopes to keep production of the cask version of the ‘Cream of Manchester’ - accounting for just 10% of the business - within the city at Hydes Brewery. However all off-trade production including cans, as well as nitrokeg, will be transferred to other company plants in South Wales, Lancashire and Glasgow, which could be potentially damaging to the brand’s image.

The company said the move was part of a restructuring of its ale operations, including the transfer of the Draught Bass brewing contract from Coors Brewers to Marston’s Brewery, both in Burton-on-Trent, from March 2005.

The company said the continued decline in cask ales and the requirement for improved production and distribution efficiencies had contributed to the decision.