Lion NZ is closing Harrington’s Brewery in Christchurch, and moving production of the brand to its South Island breweries.
Harrington’s, which was founded in 1991 by John and Val Harrington, was bought by Lion in July 2018.
It was one of the pioneers of New Zealand’s craft beer scene, and won the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Champion Brewery award in 2012.
At the time of the sale, John Harrington said Lion was in the best position to give the brewery the support needed to grow the brand.
“They have a strong track record of protecting and growing craft beer brands and we’re confident that the work we’ve done in creating a strong legacy, will be protected, and even strengthened, by this move,” he said.
The Harrington’s brand turns 30 this year.
No one from Lion was available for an interview with Brews News, but in a statement, a spokesperson described the call as a “tough decision”.
“The Brewery is a leased property and requires significant investment to upgrade it, which isn’t commercially viable in the current environment impacted by COVID,” they said.
“We also have excess capacity across our national brewery network which can be utilised to brew Harrington’s, with the majority of the Harrington’s portfolio continuing to be made at our South Island breweries.”
The company owns the Emerson’s and Speight’s breweries in Dunedin, and The Fermentist microbrewery in Christchurch.
Lion already uses its Speight’s facility to brew some of the Panhead core range beers.
Lion said the closure of Harrington’s is still in its proposal stage, with the final decision expected to be made within the next two weeks.
“Our first priority and our primary concern at this time is to support our people as we work through the proposed changes.“
Eleven staff work at the Harrington’s site in Wigram.
Brews News approached the Harrington’s family for comment, but they weren’t willing to discuss the move before a final decision was made.