Will sun shine on lager sales?

IS there anything more enjoyable than a cold beer on a hot day?

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While the drink drive limit – and even uncertainty after the EU referendum result – may dissuade some punters from a post-work pint, it’s safe to say that many are still being tempted into the country’s pubs and beer gardens.
And with refreshment the top priority, drinks firms say lager – still the biggest-selling style of beer in Scotland’s bars and pubs – will likely be the favourite choice for beer drinkers in the weeks ahead.
“The warmer months of summer present a tremendous opportunity for outlets to increase sales, as people tend to spend more time outdoors,” said Claire Arnott, head of UK brand activation at Tennent’s.
She added that, as demand increases, it’s “important to maintain healthy stock levels at all times”.
Stocking the right range of lagers is important, of course, and while big-name brands on the bar are generally considered a safe bet, firms said it’s worthwhile using fridge space to experiment with a broader range of lagers.
“Those operators that carefully select their ranges to only include the big hitters, the proven winners and the true innovators within respective categories will not only reduce customer confusion at the bar but also increase their profits as a result,” said Rob Salvesen of Kopparberg, which recently launched a new fruit lager.
This was echoed by Andrew Turner, on-trade category and trade marketing director at Heineken, who said licensees can increase their margins by stocking a select range of premium bottled lagers.
“Take the time to engage with customers, ask them what brands they want and stock accordingly,” said Turner.
“By speaking to your customers and monitoring purchases, you can successfully tailor your range to suit your market and range your fridges to ensure that you have new and vibrant brands that your customers want.”
Andy Maddock, managing director of Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh, said the recent explosion in craft beer has provided licensees with a broader choice of lagers to offer their customers.
“Lager is a classic summertime drink for adult consumers of all ages, and with the explosion in craft lagers available licensees can offer brands at different price points to cater to a wide range of drinkers,” he said.
And Stewart Brewing director Steve Stewart said his firm has seen a growing number of pubs experimenting with introducing new beers in a variety of different formats, from bottles and cans to 30-litre kegs.
“Try experimenting with different varieties of package,” he advised.
“330ml cans are brilliant as an additional offer.
“You could do some sampling, get people interested, and then start to expand the draught offer.”
In addition to craft lagers, imported brands are also a strong choice during the summer months, according to Innis & Gunn UK sales director, Crawford Sinclair.
But he added that, regardless of the brands being stocked, it is vital that any lager is served at the highest standard.
Sinclair said licensees should “ensure it’s as fresh as possible, the right temperature and never underestimate the importance to drinkers of getting it in the right glass”.