Lion to close West End Brewery

14 October, 2020 by Andy Young

Lion has outlined plans to close the iconic West End Brewery in South Australia, with doors closing in June 2021.

The brewer said that West End has been operating well below full production for some time and that as the company looks to ensure a sustainable brewing network for the future, this was no longer viable.

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Speaking at the announcement today Lion’s Managing Director, James Brindley said: “Over the last few decades consumer preferences have changed, the beer market en masse continues to decline and is now at its lowest per capita consumption ever recorded in Australia, while 700 new craft breweries have sprung up so while we are selling less beer per person, we have 700 new competitors.

He added: “Lion has a lot of breweries in Australia and we have excess capacity. So at the West End Brewery itself we are operating at 50 per capacity.

“It’s a very sad day for our industry, for West End and for South Australia.”

In a statement Lion said: “Our priority right now is the wellbeing of our team here at the Brewery. This is no reflection on the dedication or capability of our team at West End and their contribution to this brewery and our brands over many years.

“We recognise this is very difficult news and it comes at a particularly challenging time for our people. We will be consulting with each and every team member to support them through this proposed change.”

South Australia’s Premier Steven Marshall said: “We know that the coronavirus has affected the viability of so many businesses around the country, and we’re not immune from that here in South Australia – it’s a very sad day.

“What they will be doing though is looking after those employees, they’ll get their full entitlements and I know that they’re working with those employees as we speak to make sure that they’re looked after into the future.”

Staff impacted by the closure 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. Lion said it will work with the SA Government to optimise this support package.

Lion’s statement added: “Around a third of our existing team would remain in South Australia under this proposal across sales and sponsorship roles.

“We acknowledge West End’s 160-year history. We are a proud supporter of sports at all levels – sponsoring many competitions and teams in SA including the SANFL, the Strikers and the Redbacks – and of the pubs and clubs that bring communities together.

“We are committed to doing all we can to see as many of our events and traditions continue and working alongside our customers during this difficult period as they recover from a very challenging year.”