According to James Brindley, Managing Director Lion Beer, Spirits & Wine Australia, the Canning Vale-located brewery has been operating below capacity for some time, a problem that will cost the company too much to rectify.
“This is not something we have taken lightly and is no reflection on the dedication and capability of our people at The Swan Brewery or the importance of the WA market to our business,” he says in a statement. “We will be consulting with our people to support them through this significant change.”
Unfortunately, the closure means more than just the loss of a WA icon, 80 positions in the company will be made redundant and the closure will also impact on contract labour requirements.
However, 55 sales and support roles will be saved from the cull – according to their press release these roles will be moved to a new site within WA, with no word on exactly where.
With the Canning Vale closure, Lion is apparently planning to move the brewing and keg production aspects of Swan and Emu to the West End Brewery in South Australia, while the pack production will relocate to the James Boag & Son Brewery in Tasmania. As such these premises will be receiving $70 million and $12 million investments respectively.
With the loss of the brewery the beer scene in WA is set to see a few changes, one of which comes with the news of the development of a new brewery bar in Perth, the other being the acquisition of Little Creatures, also by Lion.
“Lion remains committed to the Swan and Emu brands and to the Western Australian market,” says Brindley. “Our ongoing sales presence in WA and our recent acquisition of Little World Beverages demonstrate that we continue to see WA as an important part of our future.”
Indeed, for fans of the brand, Lion was at pains to stress that neither the recipe nor the flavour of the beers would be changing in anyway, with brewing emulation testing planned to ensure consistency.
Operations are expected to wind down by the end of March 2013 with the WA workers being offered the new positions in the other states. However, only time will tell if those offered the jobs in SA and Tasmania will take Lion up on the offer and shift interstate.