Covid and duty change force closure of Halewood’s Huyton site

Halewood Wines & Spirits is planning to close the site of its headquarters in Huyton, Merseyside.

The company said the move was the result of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and the abolition in April of duty dilution, the mechanism that allowed producers of wine-based and made wine products to bulk up volumes by diluting products after duty had been paid.

Halewood has shifted emphasis in recent years from its carbonated long drinks such as Lambrini and Crabbie’s – both made at Huyton – towards premium spirits.

Employees at the Huyton site are being offered the opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy.

It is considering outsourcing the production of Lambrini to a contract packer and moving production and bottling of Crabbie’s to its own manufacturing site in Chorley, Lancashire.

Alternative locations for warehousing and a logistics base are being examined within 15 miles of the Huyton site. Logistics and customer services teams will be offered the chance of moving to the new site.

“It is also envisaged that a number of operational roles will transfer to Chorley,” said Halewood in a statement.

It said: “As a business, we are committed to our ongoing strategy of building a range of premium artisanal spirits with strong provenance.

“However, the impact of Covid-19 and the recent abolition of duty dilution has had a major impact on our sales mix, meaning our carbonated drinks have become less profitable.

“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.”

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