New Belgium cuts 28 jobs as craft-beer sales growth slows industry-wide

Andy Cross, The Denver PostA tap room at New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado in 2016.

New Belgium Brewing confirmed Monday that it laid off 28 employees, most of whom worked out of the beer maker’s Fort Collins headquarters.

The cuts, made Friday, were partly due to a rapid expansion to Asheville, N.C. in 2013. In a statement, the company said “We expanded our staff to support a brewery about 40 percent larger than New Belgium is today, and we haven’t yet achieved our goals in the face of changing dynamics in craft brewing.”

While the maker of the popular Fat Tire brand shipped more beer in 2017 than the previous year, growth in craft beer sales has slowed, causing New Belgium to rejigger its goals. Industrywide, independent craft brewers continue to thrive nationwide but at a slower pace, according to a 2016 year-end report by the not-for-profit Brewers Association.

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And the growth trend back in 2013 is not the same one as today, said Bryan Simpson, a spokesman for New Belgium.

“In 2013 we added a second brewery in Asheville, N.C. based on projections that reflected industry trends at the time,” he said. “Since then, the industry overall has slowed somewhat so we have had to make adjustments to our plan.”

It’s not the first time New Belgium had to cut jobs. Simpson said that there were cuts in 2003 after an expansion project ended.

Since New Belgium is an employee-owned company, the affected employees will be paid the full valuation of their shares, “which can run the course of a few years,” Simpson said. “While they no longer work at New Belgium, they do own shares and would reap any benefit should share values increase.”

New Belgium still employs about 700 people nationwide, Simpson confirmed.

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