The importance of being organised

The festive stress can be eased by a close relationship with your wholesaler

Bottles on bar

TEAMWORK is the backbone of any bar, and never more so than in the weeks leading up to Christmas when the pressure on staff to maintain great service can be incessant.

The importance of organisation and communication in this type of environment can’t be overstated.

And this is as relevant to a licensee’s relationship with their wholesaler as with the team in their outlet.

As the busiest trading period of the year draws nearer, licensees have been advised to work closely with their suppliers to make sure they’re well prepared for any eventualities.

Toby Sigouin, wine buyer for Inverarity Morton, stressed that operators making festive orders should “firstly, trust the knowledge and expertise of your account manager” as “a good wholesaler should have valuable insights into market and category trends” which can help improve a venue’s drinks offer.

That was a view shared by Hayley Tait of Dunns Food and Drinks, who said a clear two-way dialogue is the best way to “ensure that both customer and wholesaler are on the same page when it comes to orders and deliveries”.

In order to exploit the opportunity for increased sales in the last few weeks of the year, an on-trend drinks list filled with choices to suit the season (be it beers, wines or spirits) is essential.

A good wholesaler should have valuable insights into market and category trends.

Tait said the traditional switch over to darker and more warming spirits “is already beginning to happen as drinkers look for something to combat the colder weather”, adding that operators should be fully prepared to meet demand for drinks upgrades during the holidays.

“Premium options will also be another opportunity for growth in sales this Christmas,” she said.

“Premium mixers such as Fever-Tree and Fentimans are the perfect way to add perceived value. You can make easy Christmas cocktails by pairing with a premium spirit and some fresh locally-sourced garnishes.”

Alan Hay of Tennent’s agreed, stressing the importance of stocking products that allow revellers to trade up.

“Christmas brings with it office parties, friends and family catch-ups and celebrations, all with the festive spirit running high,” he said.

“Consumers are often in the mood to try something new and spend a little extra, so it’s important that operators have a range of premium brands available to capitalise on that festive spirit and drive extra revenue through the tills.”

While most operators will expect the festive season to be busy, it can still be unpredictable.

Consumers are often in the mood to try something new and spend a little extra.

And here, in particular, a good working relationship with a wholesaler can stand a licensee in good stead.

“With a great many variables over the Christmas and New Year period, we have to be ready to handle every situation that is being thrown at us,” said Sigouin at Inverarity Morton.

“We’ll be offering same day delivery for anyone who is really stuck and it has happened, even over the festive period, that some days are markedly busier than others or you sell out of something faster than you expected. We do anticipate these eventualities so that’s why we make sure we’re well stocked up even if our customers aren’t.”

This was echoed by David Sutherland, managing director of Wick-based wholesaler, Sutherland Brothers, who said the company is planning for all likelihoods to make sure its service isn’t disrupted throughout the winter.

He said: “We intend to carry additional stocks to avoid any weather related issues. Also our suppliers are increasingly prone to out of stocks and high stock levels can minimise any problems.

“We routinely offer a next day timed delivery by our own transport and also have a click and collect service.”

And although the season is likely to be stressful, there have been technology advancements in recent years that have made the process of ordering easier for suppliers and purchasers during peak times.

Online trading is king now, according to Sutherland.

He said: “Online trading has now overtaken telesales, which is a 15 point rise since 2016.

“This creates a natural sales uplift of up to 20%. This Christmas will not have the same pressure on the sales team, as orders flow smoothly and seamlessly into the system.

“We expect this trend to continue, reaching 60% in 2018.”