Thoughts on Green Flash Brewing Downsizing Workforce and Distribution Footprint
(San Diego, CA) – News broke this morning by way of our friends over at West Coaster San Diego magazine, in which Green Flash Brewing CEO Mike Hinkley released info on a considerable workforce and distribution reduction. Here are the important bits from West Coaster, please support them by reading the entire article for the entire scoop (link).
• “The company has made the difficult decision to let go of 15% of its workforce That percentage equates to 33 employees.”
• “For now, the company will focus on its revised approach to distribution—it had distributed to 50 states, 35 more than the count listed on its newly announced business plan.”
• “The industry has continued to grow more crowded and complex in recent years. Big Beer’s acquisitions and consolidation of the biggest brewers created pressure from the top. Thousands of small brewers opening across the country created pressure from the bottom. Under those conditions, we are pulling back into the territory where we are the strongest and concentrating our resources.”
If you recall, last year around this same time we reported of a round of layoffs that were very telling about the health of Green Flash Brewing and the medium sized craft brewery business as a whole. The story of Green Flash can be simply told that they were young and hot, so they ramped up with a second big production facility. Meanwhile, the market changed and the company lost some of their rockstar luster.
There were a few things Green Flash did to try and stay hip including launching a separate brand for their barrel program, known as Cellar 3, rebranding their acquisition of Alpine Beer and sending it out nationally, and making a run up against the highly popular Firestone Walker 805 beer with their GFB beer.
Unfortunately for the Cellar 3 products, they didn’t catch on as consumer habits are changing with regards bottle formats (Cellar 3 is in the corked and caged 750ml). Alpine Beer has seen some moderate fanfare in new markets that heard of their storied reputation for being some of the best beers in the world, but have fell prey to current consumer habits that leaves them dusty on the bottle shop shelf. GFB Blonde Ale was a good idea as well, but didn’t catch on, as Firestone Walker 805 and much larger breweries have a foothold on casual beer drinkers.
When I started following Green Flash back in 2006, I felt their brand and beers were very “San Diego.” Once they ramped up and went national, it seemed like that feel-good brand got lost in translation. It would be nice to see them tighten up and get back on track given the current market climate and their recent decision to scale back on distribution. In a perfect world, it would be cool if they were more local-focus like Stone and Karl Strauss. With that said, there are probably some more difficult decisions to be made as their Miramar and Virginia Beach locations still have to be paid for. I can’t see this company being ripe for acquisition based on what we are hearing about their debt and current market penetration. We hope that the talented employees that lost their jobs land on their feet quickly.
We have reached out to Green Flash Brewing’s Communications Director for more information and comments, but unfortunately, she was one of the layoff casualties.