Germany: 150-year-old private brewery Bischoff has to close

The 150-year-old private brewery Bischoff from Winnweiler in Rhineland-Palatinate, 100 km southwest of Frankfurt, Germany, has gone bust and is shutting down operations.After a reorganization under self-administration failed and potential investors backed out, the creditors' meeting voted on Monday to shut down production in a controlled manner.

"The controlled shutdown of the brewery can minimize the losses that the company has also generated in the self-administration proceedings. In the last year and a half, the financial reserves of the brewery have been completely used up in the hope of being taken over by an investor,” says Dr. Jürgen Erbe, the trustee who had been appointed by the responsible district court in Kaiserslautern at the end of July 2022, and who acts now as the insolvency administrator.

"The reasons that led to the bankruptcy application at the end of 2020 could not be permanently eliminated in the self-administration process - also due to the effects of the corona pandemic - keyword lockdown in the catering trade - and the increased energy prices due to the war in Ukraine. Due to a defective ammonia line for the cooling, the brewery cannot produce the amount of beer that would actually be possible and for which there would have been orders. As a result, the operation did not cover its costs," says Dr. Sven Bischoff, managing partner of the private brewerywho has been managing the company in the fifth generation for more than 20 years since.

In good years, the brewery produced around 150,000 hl of beer, but sales of the brand Bischoff declined and the brewery was only able to make up for the loss through contract production for other manufacturers. The brewery also successfully built up an export business under the brand name Palatina Bräu, for the Eastern European and Chinese markets, but also with draft beer for the French and Italian markets.

However, the business was not profitable enough to protect the brewery against negative external influences. First the corona pandemic and then the effects of the war in Ukraine consumed all financial resources.

In the self-administration, it was initially planned that an investor would buy the property on which, among other things, the brewery is located. The brewery would have leased this part of the property back from the investor. This so-called sale-and-lease-back deal could have given the company the financial scope to reposition itself for the future. The investor would have developed and sold the remaining parts of the property as building land. In March 2022, the creditors approved an insolvency plan that provided for the entry of such an investor. However, shortly after the positive creditor vote, the investor withdrew.

Negotiations then started with another potential investor for the purchase of the property and the takeover of the brewery, who has now withdrawn his interest in the property at short notice.

But there is still hope for the family business, it’s about 40 employees and its customers. “Eventually, a new investor could step in with fresh capital for the repairs and new orders. In this case, production can be ramped up again quickly”, Sven Bischoff assures. “We continue to believe in Bischoff's potential and have invested heavily in the brewery in the past. I hope that beer can continue to be brewed in Winnweiler in the future,” he says.

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