The XXXX brewery at Milton in Brisbane.
The XXXX brewery at Milton in Brisbane.

Revolution behind XXXX staff cuts

QUEENSLAND'S iconic XXXX brewery is cutting nearly a sixth of its staff as the company struggles to compete with the surge in popularity of rival craft and contemporary beers.

XXXX once commanded half the Queensland market but dozens of successful craft and micro breweries have sprung up in the past decade.

Parent company Lion, announced yesterday it was reining in costs at the Milton brewery by axing 25 full-time roles from a workforce of 144.

"In order to remain competitive in the marketplace against a backdrop of a range of cost pressures, a reduction in volume within our brewery network and the continued decline in the mainstream beer market, we are proposing to reduce the number of shifts at the Milton brewery, which may result in 25 full-time roles being made redundant," the company said in a statement.

The XXXX brewery at Milton in Brisbane.
The XXXX brewery at Milton in Brisbane.

A further 36 job losses were announced at the company's West End Brewery in South Australia, which is facing a similar plunge in market share.

Full and mid-strength beer sales across the market contracted 9 per cent last year while contemporary beer sales jumped by 12 per cent and craft beers grew by 10 per cent.

Newstead Brewing Co Milton venue manager Tim Vickers said drinkers wanted variety as they moved away from traditional beers made to be "drunk as cold as possible, with as much fizz as possible and made to be smashed down as quick as possible".

He said the company, which started in a shed in Newstead in 2012 and now employs 13 brewers, had been overwhelmed with the demand.

"We started off brewing 20 to 40 kegs at a time and now we are brewing 200 every time and we are installing new tanks to brew even more beer," he said. "We never expected to go from a small shed in Doggett St and grow into a multimillion-dollar brewery."

Lilly Brandt enjoys a beer at Newstead Brewery. Picture: Adam Head
Lilly Brandt enjoys a beer at Newstead Brewery. Picture: Adam Head

United Voice union spokesman Damien Davie said the XXXX cuts were "outrageous" and staff were worried about their ongoing job security.

"We're concerned that this isn't the finish of jobs losses here, we're concerned about their commitment to Queensland," he said.

"XXXX management needs to walk the plank; we need people in here who care about good jobs here at the Queensland brewery.

"They'll say that the little craft brewery down the road is taking business off them - the fact is they're a big business, a multinational that doesn't care about Queensland."

Mr Drum said some of the workers facing the threat of redundancy at the Milton brewery had worked there for more than 30 years.

"Workers are faced with a high level of uncertainty and they're confused," he said.