James Brindley, managing director of Lion Beer, Spirits & Wine Australia, has announced that its Swan brewery at Canning Vale in WA will shut its doors by early next March, and relocate its production units to SA.
Lion has stated that it will transfer its WA keg production and the brewing of Swan and Emu to its West End brewery in South Australia and its WA pack production to its James Boag and Son brewery in Tasmania.
According to Brindley, Swan brewery, which has been producing local beers since 1877, was operating below its manufacturing capacity, and the capital investment to maintain its current operations was too high.
The company has five breweries across Australia and the Swan brewery is the least productive, Australia’s biggest brewer, Lion’s, external director Leela Sutton said.
Sutton stated that "The beer market has certainly been challenging particularly in the last couple of years, it has been in decline."
She went on to say that the relocation from WA to SA may not be appreciated by everyone, but the company has to ensure that its operations are set up to capitalise on the latest emerging trends.
This closure will end 175 year alliance between Swan Brewery and Western Australia, and will result in the loss of 80 jobs, which will also affect contract workers, reports the ABC news.
As many as 55 roles in sales and support functions will be not be impacted and will be relocated to a new office site in WA.
In addition Lion will also invest $70 million into its West End brewery in South Australia to expand its capacity.
Commerce Minister Simon O’Brien said it was sad when any business moved from WA, “particularly when it means the loss of 80 jobs".
Locals have been affected by the closure, and a Perth publican who did not want to be named said that Swan and Emu would eventually lose its market popularity as big brewers only marketed niche brands like Tooheys New and Carlton Draught, reports the WAtoday.
He stated that it was a shame WA was losing a manufacturer just when it needed to diversify beyond the resources sector but the state was at least leading the nation in microbrewing.
UnionsWA acting secretary Meredith Hammat said the decision meant more than just the loss of a WA icon, the Western Australian reports.
"The fortunes of companies, industries and economies change and it is often working people and their families who are the first and hardest hit,” Hammat added.
The unions were working with Lion to secure fair notice, terms and conditions for affected employees.
The company said “lion will remain committed to the Swan and Emu brands and to the Western Australian market”