Japan Tobacco plans to close factory in Britain

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TOKYO, Sept 27 (Reuters) Japan Tobacco Inc said it plans to close a factory in Wales and shift production to a plant in Northern Ireland, its first consolidation of output since its acquisition of Gallaher earlier this year.

Japan Tobacco, the world's third-largest cigarette maker, said it would close its Cardiff factory in Wales in September 2009, affecting 184 jobs. The factory, one of 33 in the Japan Tobacco group, produces about 330 million cigars a year.

The bulk of Cardiff's output will be shifted to its Lisnafillan factory in Northern Ireland in a move that is expected to create 95 jobs, Japan Tobacco said in a statement.

Japan Tobacco spokeswoman Yukiko Seto said the company has just started negotiations with the labour union and could not yet give an estimate of the charge it might incur from the closure.

Japan Tobacco, which is 50 percent owned by the Japanese government, makes Mild Seven cigarettes and owns the Camel, Winston and Salem brands outside the United States. Gallaher's brands include Benson&Hedges, Silk Cut and Mayfair in Britain.

REUTERS MP RN1651

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