Workers sacked as Bundaberg Rum bottling moves to Sydney

A decision to relocate Bundaberg Rum’s bottling operations to Sydney will result in 10 job losses in the city that bears its name, its parent company has announced.

International alcohol giant Diageo, which includes Bundaberg Rum in its stable of drinks, announced the iconic Queensland drink would be bottled in the western Sydney suburb of Huntingwood from as soon as the end of next month. 

“This decision comes in response to the continued pressure on our business from lower alcohol consumption and the punitive excise tax on spirits and RTDs (pre-mix drinks) which has seen volumes decline significantly in recent years,” a Diageo spokeswoman said.

“This has meant that both our bottling facilities – Bundaberg and Huntingwood – are underutilised.”

Bundaberg Rum Distillery in Bundaberg. Picture: PETER LIK

Bundaberg Rum Distillery in Bundaberg. Picture: PETER LIK

The decision drew criticism from Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, who said it was a disappointing move, particularly in a region that had suffered devastating floods in recent years.

“Ten jobs may not sound like much but it's significant in a smaller community like Bundaberg,” he said.

“Given the size of Diageo, it's my expectation that they will do their utmost to assist the affected employees into alternative employment.”

Bundaberg mayor Mal Forman said he was saddened by the announcement, but he had been assured the company had a commitment to the city. 

“It’s iconic for us and it’s something special for us,” he said.

“It’s a great economic driver too, with tourism and other things. It puts us on the map both nationally and internationally.”

Cr Forman said he understood demand for bottled Bundaberg Rum had declined as more people bought pre-mixed cans – a trend he wanted no part of.

“I’m a true blue Bundy Rum man, I like the real stuff from here and I always will,” he said.

The Diageo spokeswoman said some premium products, such as the Master Distillers Collection, would continue to be bottled in Bundaberg. 

“This was not a decision we have taken lightly, however it is a necessary one to ensure the longer term sustainability of the distillery,” she said.

“We remain absolutely committed to Bundaberg and the distillery and will continue to invest and focus on our core business of distilling, maturing and blending great quality rum in Bundaberg as we have done for the last 125 years.”

brisbanetimes.com.au

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