With global lockdowns bringing the brewing industry to its knees, one UK brewer has turned its business around after adopting an online model.
Here’s the deal…
On March 20, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson mandated the closure of the country’s pubs, bars and restaurants to stem the spread of the coronavirus. His action sent many UK brewers, whose primary route to market is on-premise sales, scrambling.
As the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) reported the economic carnage was immediate and unforgiving. UK, pubs lost 40% of their beer sales in March, when lockdown measures were only in place for 11 days.
It’s not like the Brits have stopped drinking (Never!), but they have changed how and where they are buying their beer…
A recent YouGov poll revealed that, despite the closure of pubs and restaurants in the United Kingdom, the majority of Brits (57%) are drinking more or less as much as they were before lockdown. And 17% of respondents, now sheltering-in-place have owned up to drinking even more.
At the same time UK retail alcohol sales are up more than 30% in the first few weeks of lockdown, according to the Office for National Statistics. Off-premise beer sales at outlets such as supermarkets and liquor stores rose by 10.6% for the same period as the Brits stocked up on takeaway beer to ride out the lockdown.
Anticipating the shifting beer landscape Jubel Beer, (a UK-based beer brand that crafts fruit infused beer inspired by the French Demi Pêche tradition) which originally sold 75% of its products through bars and restaurants, built web presence almost overnight only to see a “14,000%” increase in retail sales since lockdown measures were imposed.
In mid-March, Wilson gathered his team of nine employees together to discuss COVID-19’s impact and the best business strategy to survive.
And ruling out any hopes that pubs would re-open any time soon, Jubel Beer managed to launch an online store in just two weeks.
Then the brewery’s online sales took off …
Co-founder Jesse Wilson told the Drinks Business that he now sells around 10,000 bottles per week online, up from 700 per week… “The company had sold all of its stock listed on Amazon by April 7, less than three weeks after the on-trade has closed.”
“From the start of April we needed to have our foot on the gas,” Wilson explained. “We’re all fairly tech adept…but it also helped to have a small team that just works really hard.”