‘Toughest decision in 35 years’: Grand Ridge Brewery calls in administrators

‘Toughest decision in 35 years’: Grand Ridge Brewery calls in administrators

Photo via Grand Ridge Brewery Facebook

Rising costs and higher taxes have claimed one of Australia’s oldest craft beer markers after Grand Ridge Brewery in Victoria’s Gippsland region was placed into voluntary administration.

Grand Ridge Brewery, founded and led by Eric Walters for the past 35 years, has cited financial pressures dating from the pandemic for the appointment, with the family-owned company seeking a restructure of the business in a bid to continue operating.

“This decision was the most difficult in 35 years of operation,” says Walters.

“We believe there is no alternative than to file for voluntary administration. Ultimately, we hope to remain operational.”

Grand Ridge Brewery, the maker of award-winning beers and ciders, operates a taphouse and restaurant at Mirboo North, a country town located in the Strzelecki ranges of South Gippsland.

Walters anticipates that both will continue to operate as usual during the restructuring process with the company hoping to retain “as many staff as possible”.

Grand Ridge Brewery was the main sponsor of the Australian rounds of the World Superbike series at Phillip Island in 2022 and 2023, with the company producing a limited edition 2023 World Superbike Pilsener to mark the occasion last year.

“Our industry, along with many others, is currently finding business very challenging,” says Walters. “We foresee a positive future in a restructured business and are eager to reset and move forward.”

In a message on the company’s website, Walters thanks his loyal customers and urges them to “try and keep it alive”.

“It has been an amazing journey, helping build the craft beer revolution in Australia and seeing it flourish into what it is today, and adding to the quality choices for Aussie beer consumers,” he says.

“I want to thank my incredible team who have worked tirelessly to make all the beers great and who have helped promote the brand throughout Australia, driving regional tourism and jobs for locals, and across the world more recently as we embarked on a major branding exercise.”

Grand Ridge Brewery has appointed Richard Lawrence and Mitchell Ball from Mackay Goodwin as voluntary administrators.

The move follows a string of collapses for the craft beer sector over the past year, with all citing rising costs and federal taxes impacting their businesses.

The most recent announcement was Gold Coast-based Black Hops Brewing which appointed voluntary administrators on 28 March, ahead of the Easter long weekend.

Black Hops, which was founded in 2014 by Michael McGovern, Eddie Oldfield and Dan Norris, operates a craft beer brewery and tap rooms business from Burleigh Heads and Biggera Waters on the Gold Coast and in East Brisbane, employing about 70 staff.

In January, Sydney craft beer company Wayward Brewing Co and its distribution business Local Drinks Collective also hit the wall, but the companies emerged from voluntary administration at the end of January following a restructure.

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