Canterbury Brewery to go

TIME TO GO: The St Asaph Street brewery was so badly damaged in the February earthquake it has to be demolished.
TIME TO GO: The St Asaph Street brewery was so badly damaged in the February earthquake it has to be demolished.

Christchurch's landmark Canterbury Brewery will be bulldozed and a $15 million warehouse and distribution centre built on the site.

Lion told staff this morning it would relocate the bulk of its Christchurch brewing operations to Speights Brewery in Dunedin.

A total of 22 jobs will go from the 110 based in Canterbury.

Lion said it had a total of 28 vacancies nationwide and hoped staff could be redeployed rather than made redundant.

Lion corporate affairs director Neil Hinton said the St Asaph Street brewery was so badly damaged in the February earthquake it had to be demolished.

The firm then had to decide whether to rebuild a brewery on the same site.

He said uncertainty over the stability of the land meant Lion had opted to build a $15m "state-of-the-art" warehouse and distribution centre rather than a new brewery.

"We cannot commit to a rebuilt brewery at the moment but we can commit to building a warehouse.

"A brewery is a lot more complicated and much heavier [than a warehouse'."

Questions about the stability of the land would take some time to resolve, said Hinton.

Hinton said there would be three months of planning before work could begin.

"Then we are looking to have construction completed in 2012 . . . though clearly we need to understand the land and clear the site but we expect we can do it."

The new warehouse would be part of a $43m plan which would include and extra $20m to permanently boost production at the Speight's Brewery and $8m to increase capacity at its Auckland brewery, The Pride.

Temporary arrangements to boost production in Dunedin since February would be made more permanent, said Hinton. "We will have longer shifts and more staff."

The move would create 16 new jobs in Dunedin.

About 70 jobs would remain in Canterbury at its sales offices in Tower Junction and at four retail outlets.

Lion acting managing director Rory Glass said the company wanted to "provide certainty and safety" to its staff, and continuity of supply to customers.

He said it was important for the firm to maintain a presence in Christchurch but the St Asaph Street site could not sustain a brewing operation for the foreseeable future.

The upgrade of The Pride in Auckland's East Tamaki would allow production of specialty beers like Guinness and Stella Artois Légère, previously brewed at the Canterbury Brewery.

The Press