Sleeman shuts Dartmouth brewery

Unable to close a sale to any prospective buyer, Canada’s third largest beer company has turned off the taps at its Nova Scotia brewery.

Sleeman Breweries announced Thursday it has closed its Dartmouth facility permanently, effective at the end of the business day, putting the plant’s remaining 15 staff out of work.

The Guelph company, owned since 2006 by Japanese beer giant Sapporo International, put the Dartmouth brewery on the market in March, saying it would permanently close the plant by July if no buyer could be found.

The Dartmouth plant as of March was producing about 2.7 million litres of beer per year — less than two per cent of Sleeman’s total annual volume from its plants across the country, Sapporo noted at the time.

“We have been working for months on trying to maintain as many jobs as possible by selling the facility to a new brewery owner,” Pierre Ferland, Sleeman’s national vice-president for operations, said in a release Thursday.

Sleeman at the end of October cut 14 full- and part-time positions at Dartmouth, nearly half of the plant’s staff, so as to “accommodate a smaller operator.”

The company said Thursday it had also offered a supply deal to prospective buyers, in which 350,000 cases of Sleeman products would be produced per year in the facility until a new owner had its own product established.

Ultimately, Ferland said, “this facility was too big for the small operators and too small for the large ones.”

Sleeman said it had been optimistic it could sell the plant to another brewer but has now “exhausted its options and could not come to terms with prospective bidders.”

Sleeman said in March it would consolidate the Dartmouth plant’s production into its three other Canadian plants at Vernon, B.C., Chambly, Que., and Guelph. Sleeman products will still be available at Nova Scotia beer retailers, bars and restaurants, the company said Thursday.

Sleeman’s parent firm this summer also moved about 20 million litres’ worth of Sapporo beer production for the U.S. market away from the Guelph brewery to an unnamed “third party partner” in the U.S. The Guelph brewery is to continue to produce all Sapporo products sold in Canada. — Network

Related stories:
Sleeman’s N.S. brewery for sale, March 6, 2013
Sleeman cutting N.S. brewery staff, Nov. 11, 2013

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