Diageo is to close its Co Waterford brewery by the end of the year, with the loss of 21 jobs.

The company said that, following a review of its Irish business, it has decided to transfer all of its Waterford operations onto one site at St James’s Gate in Dublin.

Diageo said it was "beginning the process of formal consultations with the revelant representative bodies", and will work with them to explore opportunities for the workers within the company.

However it said there were "no plans for additional roles at the St Jame's Gate plant."

Diageo also said it was “fully committed” to finding alternative uses for the Waterford plant and had begun work with State authorities as part of this.

In 2004, with the support of Enterprise Ireland, the company opened a €40 million facility at the Waterford site.

At the time Diageo said the facility would be used to brew the "essence of Guinness", which would be exported to other countries were the drink is produced.

In 2008 Diageo announced plans to close its Dundalk and Kilkenny operations, with the loss of up to 250 jobs.

At the time the company said it planned to transfer much of its operations, including one-third of the work done at St James's Gate, to a 75-acre greenfield site in Leixlip, Co Kildare.

However Diageo began a review of this plan in early 2010. It also announced a further 107 job losses later that year as part of a global restructuring.

The relocation to Co Kildare was ultimately scrapped and in January 2012 the company announced that it was to invest €153 million in St James's Gate as part of a centralisation of operations there, providing 300 jobs during the construction phase.