It come as no great surprise really that Lion today announces that it will be closing the White Rabbit Brewery in Healesville and transferring production to the new(ish) brewery at Geelong.
It’s sad for the workers affected, and for the Healesville region which loses a popular local attraction but it’s perhaps not surprising given the excess of capacity that exists for the big brewers these days, an issue that saw SABMiller-owned CUB willing to close the $125 million Warnervale brewery just four years after its opening.
The White Rabbit Brewery opened around March 2009 with Dean McLeod on the Mash Paddle, having moved from WA’s Colonial Brewery to commission the plant.
Lion has recently undertaken an extensive review of our White Rabbit site at Healesville and as a consequence of this review, we have made the decision to close the Healesville site and establish a new dedicated White Rabbit Brewery at our state-of-the-art brewing operations in Geelong.
White Rabbit is an essential part of our craft portfolio and it is becoming increasingly popular with lovers of great craft beer. Unfortunately, our ability to expand our brewing capability to meet the growing demand is restricted at the Healesville site so we have decided to move White Rabbit to our Geelong Brewery where we will be better able to meet demand. We will be making a sizeable investment in our Geelong site to accommodate White Rabbit.
The Healesville site will close at the end of May 2015. Regrettably, there will be a small number of redundancies associated with the closure of the site. Our people are our number one priority and we will be working with them to provide all the necessary support during this period of transition.
The craft beer category continues to experience strong growth in Australia and Lion is committed to investing in innovation, our craft beer brands and breweries to ensure the future growth and sustainability of our portfolio. At this time of growth in craft beer, it is important that we continue to assess our operations to ensure we are equipped to leverage the opportunities that exist in the category.