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Last Coke bottles roll off Thebarton production line

Last Coke bottles roll off Thebarton production line

Sixty-six years of Coca-Cola bottling at Thebarton will end today with the last production run to come off the line at the site.

The last batch of 1 litre bottles of Coca-Cola No Sugar will roll off the production line at around midday, marking the end of a manufacturing era that started with the century-old ‘contour’ bottle in 1952.

At the time of closing, the longest serving manufacturing employee was Craig Bollenhagen (below) who started on site fresh out of school on December 5, 1977. His father Ross also worked at Coca-Cola Amatil from when the site first opened in Adelaide. Between the two of them, they have a cumulative total of 76 years of service. 

General Manager for Sales, Jarrad Mortimer said the company had been a big part of Adelaide history for the last six decades, and would retain a strong employment presence in the state.

“After 66 years and around 10 billion bottles produced, it’s time for this plant to retire. But despite that, we’re here to stay in SA,” Mortimer said.

“We’re keeping a local team of more than 150 including in sales, distribution, warehousing, cold drink equipment and IT, plus Statewide Recycling.

“So we’re proud to have been a big part of South Australia’s history, and equally proud to be a big part of its future.

“To everyone who’s worked at, or even visited the Thebarton plant, thanks for being on this journey with us, and we look forward to the next era for Coca-Cola Amatil in SA.”

The Coca-Cola Amatil plant in Thebarton has been a major employer, and a popular location for school visits between 1955 and the mid-2000s.

Coca-Cola Amatil noted in a statement that while the Thebarton site was originally on the outskirts of town, it "has become increasingly constrained and was identified in 2017 as no longer suitable for modernisation".

Bottling at Thebarton has progressively been relocated to new or expanded Amatil facilities in Western Australia and Queensland. No Australian production will shift offshore.

Mortimer said Amatil had also worked closely with all employees over the two year transition period, to help them find new work or be redeployed elsewhere.

“The wellbeing of our staff is our top priority, and most of those who’ve left have achieved their goals in employment, study or retirement,” Mortimer said.

“We’ve had good support form the South Australian Government through this process, including financial support through a co-payment to help staff transition to new jobs. That’s paid off with the solid rates of re-employment we’ve seen since February 2017.”

Coca-Cola Amatil continues to manufacture beverages around Australia at Kewdale WA, Moorabbin Victoria, Northmead in New South Wales and Richlands Queensland.

Some equipment from Thebarton has been redeployed to other Amatil sites including the ‘blowfill’ line to Papua New Guinea. Other equipment has moved to Richlands which now supplies all glass bottled beverages for Australia. Thebarton’s alcohol tank farm will be relocated to Moorabbin Victoria next year.