LionCo has announced it will shut its South Australian operations of West End Brewery in June 2021 due to falling sales.

“West End has been operating well below its full production capacity for some time now and unfortunately this is no longer viable,” LionCo said in a statement. “We have come to this proposal as the best way to ensure we have a sustainable brewing network for the future.

“The Australian beer market has been in long-term decline for the past decade as Australian drinkers choose other beverages, like wine, over beer. Per capita beer consumption has dropped around 20 per cent in this time.”

LionCo, which is a subsidiary of Japan’s Kirin, says Covid-19 exacerbated the situation. “Our input costs have continued to rise against this backdrop of declining volume, and a further drop in draught beer sales as a result of the pandemic.’’

The brewery has been in operation since 1859 making it 160-years-old. In 1980, production moved to the banks of the River Torrens at Thebarton, where it continued brewing its West End Draught, Southwark Bitter and Southwark Stout. Lion says South Australia-brewed West End Draught will “still be part of Lion’s portfolio”, but will no longer be made in the state.

More than 90 people will lose their jobs but they will have access to a West End Re-Skilling Fund of up to $1 million (on top of any redundancies).