Sydney craft brewery Wayward Brewing is in administration with debts of $2 million

Wayward Brewing is in administration with $2 million of debt and its founder has warned it’s unlikely to be the last craft brewer to hit financial trouble.

Peter Philip, who founded the Wayward brand in 2012, put the business into voluntary administration on January 2.

It owes around $2 million in debts to trade creditors, statutory creditors such as the Australian Taxation Office, and to shareholders who have loaned money to the ailing business.

The brewery, which is based in the Sydney inner-west suburb of Camperdown, is continuing to trade under administrator Atle Crowe-Maxwell from DBA Reconstruction & Advisory.

Mr Crowe-Maxwell told news.com.au that the business was struggling under the weight of cost of living pressures and the high levels of government excise imposed on beer.

“This whole industry has just been smashed by excise,” he said of the government tax which accounts for up to a third of the cost of beer.

He added that while government financial relief during Covid had provided some breathing space, subsequent cost of living pressures being felt by consumers had hurt the business.

“People are drinking Carlton not craft beer and eating at home or Maccas not at craft breweries,” Mr Crowe-Maxwell said.

Wayward, which employs 15 full time staff members as well as a number of casuals, opened its brewery and taproom in 2015.

The venue serves meals, hosts live music and trivia and runs brewery tours.

Mr Philip told The Australian that the conditions that were affecting smaller independent brewers were a “perfect storm” and that “consumers are not supporting us to the extent that we need”.

He said input costs had gone up 25 to 30 per cent in the past two years, with transport up 50 per cent and electricity up 70 per cent.

A number of craft brewers fell into administration in 2023 and Mr Philip, a former chairman of the Independent Brewers Association, warned that Wayward “won’t be the last”.

Mr Crowe-Maxwell said he will seek to restructure the business and a Deed of Company Arrangement proposal was likely to be put forward outlining a financial return to creditors and a way for the business to trade out of administration.

A first meeting of creditors is scheduled for January 10, with a second meeting, where the fate of the business will be decided, to be held later in January.

Wayward’s sister company and distribution arm Local Drinks Collective is also in administration.

Local Drinks Collective was co-founded by fellow craft brewer Batch Brewing Co, which is not involved in the voluntary administration process.

The current financial situation is a substantial decline for Wayward, with Mr Philip telling a brewing industry publication he was looking at a future initial public offering (IPO) – or stockmarket listing – for the business in 2022.

“Our intention is that we would like to move to an IPO in the next two to three years,” Mr Philip said at the time.

“We’ve got some big growth plans over the next couple of years – we have our sights set on being a top-10 Australian brewery.”

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