Drinks company Halewood Wines & Spirits to close head office

UK drinks company, Halewood Wine and Spirits is to close its head office and cut jobs, as a result of impact of Covid-19.

Stewart Hainsworth, MD of Halewood International based in Huyton.
Photo by Ian Cooper/Liverpool Echo

The distiller and brand owner, whose portfolio includes Whitley Neil gin, Liverpool Gin, Lambrini sparkling wine, and Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer, announced it was reducing its UK and Australian workforce by around 15% in March, shutting its Miami-based US arm and introducing voluntary redundancies as well as paycuts.

At the time, group CEO Stewart Hainsworth, said the company had been “hit very hard financially” by the pandemic, singling out the collapse of the on-trade and  the “sizeable downturn” in export sales.

It has not been confirmed how many jobs are now at risk, but it has been reported that staff will be able to apply for voluntary redundancy.

In a statement, the company said it was committed to its ongoing strategy of building a range of premium artisanal spirits with strong provenance, but admitted that the impact of the global pandemic as well as the abolition of duty dilution had had “a major impact” on its sales mix, and its carbonated drinks had become less profitable.

As a result, the Huyton site, a 30-acre bottling facility capable of producing around 28m cases a year, will be shut, with some production, including the bottling of Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer, moving to another manufacturing site in Chorley.

It isalso considering outsourcing Lambrini to a contract packer, it said.

“Despite the impact that COVID-19 has had on the business and the industry as a whole, we are still seeing strong UK and international growth for our core premium artisanal spirits brands, including Whitley Neill Gin, the UK’s number 1 premium gin brand, the fast growing Dead Man’s Fingers range of rums, JJ Whitley vodka and Crabbie whisky, and we will continue to focus on building these brands,” the company statement said.

In 2019, the company saw its spirits and craft beers market rise 26%, with adjusted EBITDA up 15% to £26.3m, which caused the board to rethink an ealier plan to explore options to sell the business.

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