Coopers Brewery set a strong precedent for growth in its 150th year, announcing plenty of new brews and new partnerships.

And it seems that it is set to continue its cracking pace into 2013 with the announcement of a $20 million capital expansion program, a result of its continues sales growth and its contract brewing arrangements with international brewers Sapporo and Carlsberg.

The program’s capital works include doubling the size of the brewery’s existing lager cellar, installing a second bottling line and the addition of two fermenters.

With work to begin on the cellar immediately, the bottling line is expected to be in action by November and, like the current line, will have a 1200 bottles per minute capacity. The second line will be dedicated to Coopers’ branded brews, which still make up over 70 per cent of their production.

With the DA received, Tim Cooper explains that the project is good to go and comes in the wake of a robust 2011-12 financial year for the family-owned brewery. In the 12 months to June 30, 2012, Coopers’ turnover rose 7.6% to a record $186.3 million, while profits hit a record $27.2 million, up 18% on 2010-2011.

Coopers sales also grew by 9.7% to 68.8 million litres, in the calendar year of 2012, boosted by record sales in the last six months of last year.

“Certainly the publicity surrounding our 150th anniversary has also had a major impact on sales.Coopers has achieved positive recognition for becoming the largest Australian-owned brewery, with our sales volume now securely above 4% of the national volume,” Cooper says. “The results for our anniversary year were very gratifying, especially given the current economic situation where national beer sales overall have continued to fall for a third consecutive year.”

According to Cooper the work on the fermenters and the lager cellar expansion would cost about $3.5 million and provide Coopers with additional capacity for the growth in lager production. The two additional fermenters are currently being installed, taking the total number of fermenters at the brewery to 24.

Negotiations are currently underway with specialist suppliers for the second bottling line, with contracts expected to be signed early this year at a cost of around $16.5 million. The second line is aiming reduce down-time and provide Coopers with enough additional capacity to cope with continued growth in the foreseeable future.

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