As we are all well aware, the Covid-19 situation is developing day by day, hour by hour. It is therefore imperative now, more than ever, that as an industry we all stick together and support our partners in the trade as much as possible. The entire food and drink sector has been hit hard by this unforeseen tragedy and I fear it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. All around us we are seeing restaurants, pubs, bars, wine merchants, off licenses and hotels close their doors, and we hope at some point in the future we will see them re-open and regain their much-loved position in our towns and cities.
Our commitment to you, our partner customers, remains the same. We will continue to deliver wine whilst you remain open and support your operation with our sales and marketing teams.
As a business, we are extremely fortunate to enter this tough period in a position of financial strength, but for us to remain in a viable position we will have to ensure that our exposure to debtors is not increased and this will put additional pressure on our partners. We are now, more than ever, working in close partnership with our customers and our advice to them as this moment is to take advantage of the Government secured loans, to enable them to pay staff and suppliers in the short term – we are taking this same action, in addition to lobbying HMRC for a break in VAT and Duty payments. At this stage, it’s all about cash and trying to balance out supporting customers whilst securing payment from them to enable us to pay our team.
We are of course advising our team, both on the sales side and at our head office, to follow government guidelines and to minimise their risk of exposure to Covid-19. On the practical front, our office based team is now working from home where necessary and we have systems in place to ensure there is no impact on day-to-day working life. Our sales teams already work from a home base, but we have increased the use of video conferencing to minimise the risks associated with travelling to and attending physical meetings.
With every crisis there are stories of going above and beyond and over the last few weeks it has been incredible to see the defiance of the hospitality industry in the face of this adversity. Many businesses have taken advantage of the government’s policy to allow pubs and restaurants to operate in the food home delivery market; however where restaurants do not have an off-trade license, no delivery of alcohol is permitted which will obviously have a knock-on effect on the wine industry.
Our priority will remain supporting our fantastic team and our supplier partners, who, in the face of their own difficulties, have been incredibly supportive of the actions we have taken to manage our cash to ensure the stability of the Hallgarten business.
We remain open for business and are working closely with our customers in the trade to ensure that our service levels and partnership with them are not adversely affected. There is no doubting that we are all in this together and I wish everyone across our industry well.