Today is a great celebration: Key

Seeing where Speight's Gold Medal Ale is made are (from left) Lion New Zealand supply chain...
Seeing where Speight's Gold Medal Ale is made are (from left) Lion New Zealand supply chain director George Bearzot, Lion New Zealand managing director Rory Glass, Dunedin List MP Michael Woodhouse, Prime Minister John Key and Lion New Zealand chief...

Prime Minister John Key has held Dunedin's Speight's Brewery up as a shining example of the country's return to economic prosperity.

He officially opened Lion Brewery's refurbished Speight's Brewery in Dunedin yesterday, following a three-year, $40 million upgrade project.

The Rattray St site now houses a new state-of-the-art 15,000-litre brew house, a multi-purpose tank farm, new refrigeration plant and upgraded boilers, new sales and operations offices as well as the keg and Maltexo plants which were relocated from Christchurch.

Seismic strengthening work was also carried out on all the existing buildings to ensure the site is future-proofed.

The brewery will now have a brewing capacity of more than 24 million litres per year and will operate five days a week, employing 27 permanent brewery staff - a significant increase on the team of 11 before the redevelopment.

Mr Key told about 200 guests attending, it was good to see Dunedin in such ''great heart''.

''This is the third opening we've been to today.

''This is a great example of the investment that is going into the regions ... and you can see from the consumer confidence and business confidence numbers that New Zealanders are feeling much more optimistic about the future, and I think with very good reason.

''[Speight's] is at the forefront of that.

''Today is a great celebration, not just for Lion and for Speight's, but for Dunedin.''

''This is the heart of beer making in New Zealand and number one in the hearts of beer drinkers in New Zealand.''

Mr Key said much of the success of the redevelopment was down to foreign investment, and praised Lion Brewery's Japanese parent company Kirin Holdings for its investment in Dunedin.

''They [foreign investors] have actually been very good for New Zealand. They've got deep pockets. They've made huge financial investments in New Zealand and that creates jobs and opportunities for New Zealanders.

''And Kirin is very dedicated to the New Zealand market.

''They've invested enormously around the country and that has been for the benefit of all of us.

''You've got a good parent, a very good company in Lion and a great beer - number one in New Zealand - with Speight's.''

Lion chief executive officer Stuart Irvine said the project was the second-largest capital investment Lion had made in New Zealand, and demonstrated the company's ongoing devotion to Dunedin and the South Island.

''We've been a part of Dunedin and New Zealand for around 150 years and the reopening of the Speight's Brewery today helps set us on course for the next 100,'' Mr Irvine said.

''Redeveloping a site like this is one thing, but maintaining a full production programme while plant and equipment are moved around requires equal measures of genius, resilience and teamwork.''

Mr Irvine said 80% of the $40 million budget had been spent locally, bringing welcome business to innumerable South Island and Dunedin firms.

The remainder was spent offshore procuring specialist brewing equipment that could not be sourced in New Zealand.

''This project has reinvigorated the Speight's Brewery and enabled us to ensure it remains iconic and leading-edge for years to come.''

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