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Accolade announces redundancies as cask wine declines

Accolade announces redundancies as cask wine declines

The decline of the iconic Aussie goon has claimed another victim.

Accolade Wines is seeking approximately 35 redundancies from its Berri Estates operations in South Australia's Riverland, citing changing market conditions and a consumer preference for bottled wine as the reason for the decision.

Accolade's general manager for Australian supply chain and operations, Wayne Ellis, said: "To meet the changed market, and operate efficiently … we will unfortunately be looking for approximately 35 redundancies. Accolade has tried to avoid redundancies by carrying excess costs over many months, but that cannot continue."

Staff made redundant will receive full entitlements, along with outplacement support and access to counselling.

In a statement, United Voice SA Branch Secretary, David Di Troia, said the union was currently consulting with the company.

"Initial indications from the company are that redundancies will be on a voluntary basis," he said. "United Voice will be working with members and the company during this difficult time to ensure that members are properly consulted, and receive all of their proper entitlements."

Riverland local MP, Tim Whetstone, told ABC News it was a tough decision for a region facing workforce issues.

"It is a sad day for those people and those families who now find themselves out of a job," Whetstone said.

"The job losses at Glossop will add to an already very high unemployment rate in our region. I would like to think that some of those jobs will be picked up in the existing wine industry."

Accolade will begin construction on a new $40 million bottling plant and distribution centre at Berri Estates in December. The project will take 12 months and employ 200 people.

"Once operational there will be over 40 new roles at the plant which will have the capacity to produce in excess of eight million bottles annually," Ellis said.

AVL also hit as Aussies turn away from casks

Earlier this month, AVL reported an Australian sales decrease of 2% due to a 6% decline in cask sales. In dollar value, Australian domestic sales were down by $1.6 million due mainly to reduced cask sales which were down by $1.2 million. 

The company noted the decline was in line with the consumption trend of casks in the Australian domestic market.

"Australian Vintage has transformed over the last 10 years from a bulk wine company to a quality and well respected branded wine business." 

Aussie invention struggles on home turf

Invented 52 years ago by South Australian winemaker Tom Angove, boxed or "cask wine" went on to become a ’70s pop culture icon.

Angoves pulled out of casks in the late 1990s as part of a premiumisation strategy.

“Good luck to those still pushing casks,” Tom's son John told news.com.au during the 50th anniversary of the invention.

“I’m acutely aware of the importance of the cask to our inland river regions — the Riverland, the Riverina and Sunraysia,” 

During their heyday in the 1970s and ’80s, close to two-thirds of all wine consumed in Australia came out of casks, but by 2015 sales had fallen by half from those dizzy heights. 

Accolade cask production manager Scott Bell said in 2015: “It’s not the sexiest part of the wine business but it is a fascinating category.

“Casks haven’t had the respect they deserve — it’s an Aussie invention that now goes all over the world and is now more popular overseas than here.”

Sadly, that respect hasn't come.

Goons booming in Canada

But Bell was right, the cask market in some countries is going from strength to strength.

CBC reported earlier this month that the B.C. Liquor Stores chain in Vancouver has seen sales of boxed or "cask wine" rise 45% over the past five years from $77million to $112million.

Meanwhile, Robert Simpson, general manager of Liberty Wine Merchants, said sales of boxed wine at his six Lower Mainland locations have increased by 300% in the last five years.

"There are empty shelves, we're sold out in some of our locations," he noted after the recent Labor Day long weekend.