Friday, 30 September 2011

Sabotage in Schwelm

Picture courtesy of ploepp.net
I’ve been following the story of the insolvency of the Schwelm brewery in Nordrhein-Westfalen and the latest news is grim. The brewery closed today after the administrator of the company refused to co-operate with last-minute efforts to save it as a going concern. The remaining members of staff and the works council have been locked out of the premises.

Supporters of the brewery accuse the administrator, Manfred Gottschalk, of never having been seriously interested in attempts to rescue the business.

Fermentation tanks and the brewery’s “Leergut” – bottles and custom-branded plastic crates — have apparently already been pre-sold in advance of closure. For all the income these sales provide, they seem calculated to make restarting production prohibitive – especially the crates which are useless to anyone else and will bring in their scrap value at best.

Schwelmer beer is popular locally, and thanks mainly to the efforts of the works council and supporters, two potential investors had been found who were interested in taking the brewery on. Contact was established with the administrator, which quickly became a fiasco, as it soon emerged that Gottschalk was unwilling to provide details of what equipment would be included in any sale, or to name a price as a basis for negotiations. Anyone interested in purchasing whatever was left could go to the auction in mid-November, said the administrator.

Unsurprisingly, the potential investors have lost interest after this kind of treatment and it seems the administrator will now go ahead and dismantle the brewery, destroying 180 years of brewing heritage.

Although a co-operative has been formed to try to raise money to buy out the brewery, it seems likely that it will meet the same stubborn resistance from the administrator. One can only speculate as to the reasons for his determination to prevent at all costs the continuation of brewing on the site.

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