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An industry wide Corona hangover

An industry wide Corona hangover
May 5, 2020 eBev

It has been five weeks since my last communication and since then the team at eBev has been doing a lot of listening. We want to understand what the current situation means for each of the participants in the wholesale beverage supply channel community. There are many points of view from what is an intricate network of trading relationships.

An industry wide corona hangover

We have been blessed with a long period of prosperity and now that our community has been forced to a standstill, we all have the opportunity to re-evaluate how we operate. It is fair to say that we have found (almost universally) that everyone we speak to thinks the industry needs to adapt to survive.

What worked previously isn’t going to work in the same way moving forward

Here is a summary of what we heard from each of the cohorts:

BUYERS

(On Premise Venues)

Impacts of Covid-19

Stood down some / all of team
Pivot into delivery / takeaway where possible
Tight controls on spending, requesting suppliers take stock back where possible
Still working out rent / premises outgoings
Future State
Less cash
Challenge around retaining staff in terms of their skills and business IP
Need to consolidate suppliers whilst maintaining some choice
Exploring efficiency and technology options (across full operational landscape)

SELLERS

(Distributors, Importers, Wholesalers)

Impacts of Covid-19

Stood down & reduced hours for team
Negotiating return of stock and chasing outstanding bills from on premise, awaiting government assistance packages
Diversifying to off premise, e-commerce and B2C channels
Yet to settle payables for stock (sometimes still outstanding with warehouse / 3PL)
Future State

Less cash, still waiting on payments
Potential movement of brands and / or products
Review staffing levels, particularly sales, marketing & back office personnel
Looking at opportunities to automate

MAKERS

(Producers, Brewers, Distillers)

Impacts of Covid-19

Stood down & reduced hours of team
Wine producers recently finishing vintage (off the back of the recent devastation of the bushfires)
For those with a distributor in place, they have potentially not been paid for stock from 90+days (Dec is the biggest trading month)
Stock is burning a hole in the balance sheet
Diversifying into other products (ie. hand sanitiser) and focus on B2C and e-commerce
Future State

Uncertainty on if they will get paid for what they are owed
Reviewing on premise distribution channel strategy
Investigating best way to clear / move stock in the shed
B2C national logistics well established
So, as we start to see some light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the relaxing of restrictions, are we planning to just start up again with the same way of operating?

Is that even possible?

Transforming the industry – One in, All in

We are in a unique position to take a holistic view of the industry. As we stand back and look at the big picture, we have challenged ourselves to reimagine how the wholesale beverage supply chain could look.

It is without doubt that everyone in the community is looking inwards for ways to solve their own individual issues. It is difficult to move the needle on an industry wide problem without all participants pulling together in the same direction. We believe that the only answer is that the industry is going to need to bind together on a common strategy.

Supporting a new way of doing business

Our team is working hard to design new solutions that create value and help all participants in the community to accelerate the reconstruction of the industry. In particular, we are looking to offer venues the convenience of more choice, especially in the case that they aren’t able to secure a trading account. This means suppliers can access payment upfront for their stock!