Craft beer blamed for West End job losses

October 4, 2018
By Alana House

West End has revealed how the booming craft beer scene lead to the decision to cut a third of its workforce. 

Lion announced on Wednesday that up to 36 roles at the South Australian brewery – which employs more than 100 staff – would potentially be made redundant, with another 25 staff to go at the XXXX brewery in Brisbane.

The brewing giant said in a statement that in order to “remain competitive in the marketplace against a backdrop of a range of cost pressures, a reduction in volume within our brewery network, and the continued decline in the mainstream beer market” it had been forced to take action.

The company’s regional sales director, Jason Baily, told ABC News drinkers changing tastes and a decision to brew closer to where beer was being consumed, instead of freighting large volumes from the site interstate to reduce freight costs, had influenced the decision.

“We have been brewing quite a bit of volume of beer here… that’s been going outside of South Australia,” Baily said.

“So we are proposing some changes to reduce the number of shifts that we operate at West End which will see us focus primarily on the brands that we sell in South Australia.

“So brands South Australians love, like West End Draught.”

The West End Brewery was established in Adelaide in 1859. It moved to the Southwark Brewery in Thebarton – its current location – in 1980.

In addition to the eponymous West End beer, Swan, Emu and XXXX are also bottled there, along with imported brands.

The West End site will turn its focus to brewing the “mainstream” beers that are most popular in South Australia. 

Baily said that the increasingly crowded craft beer market had created issues for the brewery.

“I’m sure everyone who has gone into a bottle shop lately has seen the extraordinary number of craft beers that are available — so there’s increased competition,” he said. 

“I think the way the beer market has changed is — it wasn’t that long ago when consumers only had two or three beers in their repertoire that they drank, where they now tend to have a lot more.

“There’s a lot more choice out there and people tend to share that around a bit more with what brands that they are purchasing.”

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