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The Clutha Licensing Trust is planning to sell its pubs and liquor store as part of move to a community trust model.
The transition could affect up to 80 jobs.
Established in 1955, the trust (CLT) owns and operates five hotels and one liquor store. They are in Clinton, Balclutha, Owaka and Milton.
It was set up in 1955 when the district voted to allow alcohol sales for the first time since 1893.
Unlike the Invercargill and Mataura licensing trusts, the CLT does not have exclusive rights to operate hotels, taverns and off-licences in its district.
Trust president Steve Morris said while the trust was in a good financial position, it had made only modest returns recently.
"It’s been discussed on and off for a while now and we’ve reached the crossroads ... We need to seriously explore this option."
Staff were being consulted on the possible changes and once that finished the public would have its say, he said.
Under the proposal, the businesses would continue to operate as normal but with new owners. All profits made from the sale of assets would be held in a community trust and invested for the benefit of the Clutha area. No decision had been made on how or when assets would be sold.
"We’ve got a wee bit to go before we get down that road yet. The decision isn’t even final and I think a lot of these things will be dictated by the market."
Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan said the trust’s decision was smart. It had lost its business advantage when the exclusive rights were taken away.
Mr Cadogan said it was important the community had input into what it wanted from its licensed premises.
"In all honesty, the world has evolved since the trust was set up and the reasoning for it being set up is an appeasement to a bygone age."
Clutha Licensing Trust
• Established 1955
• Five bars: Balclutha (2), Owaka, Clinton, Milton.
• One liquor store: Balclutha.
• 80 employees.
• $6,918,888 in assets.
• $92,414 in profits 2017-18