The Scottish on-trade was gifted this summer’s first real bit of good weather as July kicked off.
The warm sunshine brought a welcome boost to trade following what has been a gloomy start to the year for some as the lower drink drive limit impacted on business.
As the season progresses, quality and value will be the key to success, according to Amy Ledger at wholesaler CWF, who said it is “crucial that operators can choose from good quality, value for money options as well as the more expensive brand leaders to make the most of summer”.
Publicans looking to make the most of the summer should add a little fizz to their offer, Ledger suggested, as the popularity of Prosecco shows no sign of waning.
“Consumer interest in all things Italian continues at a pace and we continue to see a huge demand for Prosecco such is the interest from trade and consumers alike,” she said.
“It is partly a matter of price but the success of Prosecco is also due to the appeal of the wines.”
Wine was also flagged up by Ian Cumming, commercial director at Inverarity Morton, who suggested lower ABV varietals could also shine in the sun this year.
“Growth in popularity of wines such as Muscadet may have something to do with the fact that they are often lower in alcohol than new world wines,” he said.
It’s not just low ABV wines that are gaining traction in the on-trade, Cumming said low and no-alcohol beers have been given a boost too.
“Low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beers are popular because there are some great-tasting brews out there that actually taste like beer,” he said.
Beer of any ABV is big business for brewer and drinks supplier Belhaven; and Graham Baird, sales director for the firm, echoed Cumming’s sentiments while adding a few more to the list of potential strong performers for the summer.
“In the Scottish market at present, craft beers, cask ales and low-alcohol drinks seem to be growing well,” said Baird.
“The thirst for craft beers appears to be unquenchable.”
Beer isn’t the only category that’s buoyant in the on-trade, Wayne Scrivener, general manager of online wholesaler Ooberstock, said that summer stalwart cider also “continues to boom with range extensions and innovation”.
When it comes to meeting consumer demand, wholesalers can offer the products, but if publicans want to capture new customers this summer, then there’s still plenty to do, Scrivener suggested.
“Operators need to think about how they can capture the passing trade and benefit from the influx of people especially during the warm summer months and the August 3 bank holiday,” he said.
“Suggestions include offering Scottish-themed drink promotions and food to increase consumer spend and ensure the drink brands you are pre-ordering are supported with POS kits and window POS to maximise attention.”
While publicans can’t rest on their laurels when it comes to promoting their offer, the Scottish trade looks to have done a commendable job so far, according to Ron Hickey, sales director for catering and foodservice at Bestway Batleys.
Hickey advised operators to plan ahead as much as possible during the coming weeks.
“Ensuring product availability and delivering customer service are key to ensuring we meet customers’ needs but top tips [for licensees] would be to maintain adequate stocks of the bestsellers and plan ahead, keeping an eye on the weather,” he said.