Coronavirus pandemic the final blow in decision to close Adelaide’s West End brewery

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The owner of Adelaide’s West End brewery has announced it will close in June next year.

Lion has blamed falling beer sales caused by consumers choosing other drinks, like wine, and then the coronavirus pandemic hitting draught beer sales.

“West End has been operating well below its full production capacity for some time now and unfortunately this is no longer viable,” the company said in a statement.

“We have come to this proposal as the best way to ensure we have a sustainable brewing network for the future.”

Lion will continue to sell West End and Southwark beer.

It cut 36 jobs in 2018, blaming losses then on the rise of craft beers and increasing freight costs.

The company said beer sales had shrunk by 20 per cent over the past decade.

“Those impacted by this proposal would have access to extensive outplacement support, and a West End re-skilling fund of up to $1 million, on top of any potential redundancy payments,” it said today.

“We will work with the SA Government to optimise this support package.

“Around a third of our existing team would remain in South Australia under this proposal across sales and sponsorship roles.”

Premier Steven Marshall said it was a “sad day” for the state.

He said his thoughts were with the employees.

“Approximately 95 production workers down at this iconic West End brewery will lose their jobs around the middle of next year,” he said.

“It is a very sad day for these workers, it’s a sad day for South Australia — this is an iconic South Australian brand.”

Long history on SA stage

West End has a long association in South Australian history, first opening on Hindley Street in 1859 as Adelaide’s 14th brewery.

In 1888, the West End brewery became part of the South Australian Brewing, Malting, Wine and Spirit company.

Six years later, it became the South Australian Brewing Company.

SA Brewing was bought by Lion Nathan in 1993.

Production was concentrated at the original Hindley Street brewery until 1980, when operations moved to the current site on Port Road at Thebarton.

That site itself has a long brewing history.

It began as the Torrenside Brewery in 1886, before becoming the Southwark Brewery and ultimately West End brewery.

Its chimney is decorated with the colours of the SANFL’s premier and runner-up each year.

The brewery is also well known for its Christmas lights and decorations along the River Torrens; however, the display was cancelled this year due to coronavirus.

The nearby Coca-Cola factory stopped production in 2018 and was sold to a developer last year.

Land along Port Road has been rezoned for apartments and commercial developments after the tramline to Hindmarsh opened in 2010.

Subsidiary sale failed

In August, Lion’s owner, the Japanese-owned company Kirin, terminated a $600 million deal to sell a subsidiary called Lion Dairy and Drinks to the Chinese-owned Mengniu Dairy.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg decided the sale was “contrary to the national interest”.

Lion Dairy and Drinks owns another iconic South Australian brand: Farmer’s Union Iced Coffee.

(Original ABC Article)

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