Coors has announced a further 200 job cuts at its flagship Burton-on-Trent brewery just seven months after a spring cull which slashed 213 jobs in March.
The latest move follows Carlsberg's recent decision to slash a fifth of its UK workforce to reduce costs.
Meanwhile, the brewer Greene King plans to make up to 80 staff redundant by closing its recently-acquired Hardys & Hansons brewery at Kimberley, Nottinghamshire. The company planned to move production to its Bury St Edmunds site.
Coors said that its move was "necessary to safeguard Burton's brewing future". It aimed to cut £50M from UK costs by 2008. It said compulsory redundancies might be avoided by spreading job cuts over two years through voluntary redundancy, early retirement and redeployment.
"We have to work differently," said Coors. "Ultimately, we want a smaller, but more highly-skilled and better-paid, more-flexible workforce, so we're creating a new role of technician, a higher-status role suitable for people who can multi-task."
Roy Draycott, union convenor for the Transport and General Workers' Union, said: "In five years, there will be fewer people working in Burton, but they will be better skilled and better paid. This will ensure the future of brewing in Burton not only over the next five years but for the next generation."
While sales were flat, margins in the off-trade were being eroded through competition from wine and cider manufacturers, Coors added. Moreover, moves to increase licensing hours had not boosted sales through the on-trade: "24-hour drinking is something of a misnomer. Only a few hundred pubs have gone for a big extension and, generally, people are spreading their spend over the evening rather than spending more overall."
While cutting costs was a priority, more effective product development with a focus on high-value products would also help tackle margin erosion, Coors said.
Ian Keogh, general manager at the Burton plant, added: "A five-year plan has been jointly developed with trade unions to make Coors Burton Brewery the top performing brewery in the UK."