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Company news: adapting to a new ‘norm’

Published:  27 March, 2020

As drinks suppliers and retailers continue to fast adapt to the new trading landscape, we bring you a snapshot of just some of last week’s developments. 

With all wine schools, tastings and events now shut down or postponed due to coronavirus (Covid-19), Armit Wines has launched an educational At-Home Masterclass for wine lovers.

The first instalment features six wines from around the world, focused on two grape varieties, Grenache and Chenin, with participants offered a £45 saving off the full retail price and wines delivered direct to the doorstep, when customers can then logon to to join in.

Mentzendorff, in a note sent to all customers, acknowledged both the “unprecedented” nature of the crisis, but also it’s “the speed of its arrival”, moving to reassure that it has sufficient stocks of wines and remains fully operational.

“We understand that the support required by different parts of the trade will vary in accordance with the very different impacts on your businesses [and] I have been incredibly impressed by the creativity that the trade has already demonstrated in adapting business models overnight and I have no doubt that I will continue to be amazed by our collective resilience,” wrote MD Andrew Hawes.

At Argentine and hispanophile specialist Hispamerchants, MD Solano Pena Lenzi is offering to sell wines on behalf of his clients, delivering direct to their customers via London City Bond.

The company is another that has embraced the virtual wine tasting model, putting together six bottle mixed cases, each from three different producers, with producer-linked videoconference tastings offered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings for participating customers.

German specialist The Wine Barn remains open for business, with boss Iris Ellmann saying “we are running at good capacity and can deliver within two to three days at this moment in time”.

Pre-selected mixed cases of favourites, under headers such as Stay Home Stay Safe, and Celebrate & Donate (with £10 from the purchase price donated to Age UK), are among the offers.

Despite being inundated with orders, Vintage Roots, currently with diminished staff, has reassured customers that while orders are currently taking between three and six days to fulfil, it is doing all it can to ensure that trade orders are prioritised. Stock levels are fine, says the company, with excessive demand for European wines to be met by new orders “arriving soon”.

The company has advised contacting its team via:

As with many merchant-wholesalers, Lea & Sandeman experienced a big spike in sales, raising its minimum online order value up to £500 to “give our depleted team a breather”, before dropping this down to £250 as trade comes closer to normal volumes, with a further reduction down to £100 planned soon, and deliveries out of London also now resumed. The companies shops remain open, six days a week for reduced hours (11am to 4pm).

“It's been quite tough keeping up with the rapidly unfolding situation and frequently changing guidelines. Yet we have an amazing team who have been brilliant and we've had a huge numbers of orders flooding in too, for which we are very grateful,” said managing director Charles Lea. 

Budweiser Brewing Group UK and Ireland has launched Save Pub Life, with a gift card scheme to spend at a later date, with the beer behmouth pledging to match each purchase, doubling the value with the aim of hitting a £1m target to help the shut-down pub trade.

Finally, cocktail and bar professionals can (virtually) join The American Bar at the Savoy head bartender Maxime Schulte and his counterpart Jo Last at the Beaufort Bar, who have launched a live stream platform to provide seminars, demonstrations and tips on techniques, in an online training initiative dubbed The Booze Brain. This platform will also carry “updates on the industry and beyond”.