WITH summer drawing to a close, all eyes are firmly set on the autumn and winter months ahead. And despite the mercury’s inevitable drop, the seasonal shift can provide licensees with an opportunity to raise their sales, say drinks suppliers.
In fact, various drinks wholesale firms reckon that each season holds its own distinct opportunities.
Niall Deveney of Dunns Food & Drinks said as we head into the autumn and winter months, “we can expect to see the traditional switch to darker, warming spirits, beers and other drinks”.
“Early signs of rums and bourbons being the latest categories to get the ‘craft effect’ are out there, right on cue for the season,” said Deveney.
Growing demand for craft and imported beers should also be considered in any stock review, according to Ian Cumming, commercial director at Inverarity Morton.
He said that the wholesaler has witnessed a sizeable growth in demand for craft beers “from home-grown breweries like West, Stewart Brewing and Deeside”, suggesting provenance will continue to play an important role in the drinks customers opt for this year.
Alan Hay, sales director at Tennent’s, took a similar stance to Cumming, stating that beer “remains the dominant category and is the go-to option for most drinkers”; he said particular attention should be paid to bottled ales, which is a category that “is growing rapidly”.
Generally speaking, however, Hay advised operators to keep an eye on trends throughout the year “so they are ready to capitalise on opportunities to drive sales”.
Staying informed on drinks trends can also help licensees to review their drinks ranges more often – something that was recommended by Deveney of Dunns Food & Drinks.
“Doing so will put the licensee in the position to take full advantage of seasonal opportunities, attracting drinkers in to venues and maximising sales,” he said.
He added that, as well as growing sales, a range review “could also be a route to attract new audiences entirely”.
Cumming of Inverarity Morton agreed, stating that the days of a yearly product review are “long gone”.
“Product development is moving at such a rate, and with it, consumer knowledge, operators need to be continually reviewing their ranges,” he said.
And wine is an area that mustn’t be overlooked when reviewing a drinks range, according to Cumming, who said it’s a category “that could always benefit from a seasonal reshuffle”.
He advised that, depending on the style of outlet, operators could either promote certain wines as specials to match a seasonal menu, or move to a ‘by the glass’ offer, which he said “is a great way to reposition without remodelling”.
Hay of Tennent’s said that, in order to keep up to date with the latest trends in wine, operators should consult their suppliers, who have the experience to keep them “at the forefront of emerging trends in wine and ensure they are maximising the value of their offering”.
Hay reckons operators should also take heed of suppliers’ advice when it comes to preparing for Christmas – namely, that it’s never too early to start planning.
“The festive period is crucial for the on-trade and it’s of the utmost importance that licensees plan stock levels effectively,” he said.
“It’s important to bear in mind that Christmas nights out might start as early as November, so we’d always advise planning as far in advance as possible and making sure orders are placed well ahead.”
Deveney of Dunns Food & Drinks agreed, stating that those that are best prepared will come out on top this festive season.
“The customers that licensees are seeking to attract will have spent quite a bit of time planning their nights out and it is the operators who have paid the same care and attention that will prosper,” he said.
“It’s never too early to start planning Christmas, especially for bars and restaurants where running a Christmas menu means capturing as many advance bookings as possible.
“We will have our promotional deals confirmed by the end of August, giving our customers lots of time to plan ahead – and plenty of advice is available on how to go about it.”
– Ian Cumming, Inverarity Morton
“As a wholesaler, we will help streamline the planning, ordering and management process for our customers as much as possible.
“Our online service, Tennent’s Direct, is tailored to the needs of the individual user, providing round-the-clock convenience and allowing customers to add to their baskets as they go (including weekends, bank holidays and even Christmas Day).
“The Tennent’s Direct app gives our customers exclusive access to deals as they become available.”
– Alan Hay, Tennent’s
“We’ve been planning ahead ourselves and are just about to release our Christmas food line-up for 2017.
“Having a ‘one-stop shop’ like our portfolio available is even handier at Christmas when things get frantic as operators can rely on a single delivery bringing everything they need.”
– Niall Deveney, Dunns Food & Drinks