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Thursday, December 2, 2021

A perfect match for football fans

The delayed Euro tournament should give a much needed boost to many pubs

Scotlands-National-Stadium

A MAJOR sporting tournament is usually a big event for the licensed trade, and the delayed Euro 2020 tournament – kicking off next month, just weeks after the trade is scheduled to be able to resume selling alcohol indoors – could be bigger than most.

The tournament, taking place between 11th June and 11th July, will have pub-friendly kick-off times, including a Scotland/England game at 8pm on a Friday, which is almost guaranteed to be a good night for the licensed trade.

“It will be Scotland’s first major tournament appearance since 1998 and the stage is set for a fantastic competition,” said Paul Robertson, head of on-premise at Coca-Cola European Partners. 

That was echoed by Greene King, with the firm’s Chris Conchie describing the tournament as “a great opportunity for pubs across Scotland”.

“Not only is it the first time the Scottish national team has made the finals since 1996 but following a year of COVID restrictions, it’ll be a welcome event for pub-goers across the nation who can’t wait to get back in their local once they reopen.”

And while the tournament will hopefully help to drive footfall and a spike in sales overall, one product in particular tends to prove popular during football tournaments: the draught pint.

Neil Martin, on-trade sales director at Tennent’s, said demand for pints has been “pent up” over the past year and so beer drinkers are now “waiting in anticipation to get their hands around a perfectly poured pint in a hospitality setting”.

“Scots have been missing out on everything that comes with consuming a refreshing pint in a pub, restaurant or bar – the atmosphere, the freshness and being able to be with friends and fellow supporters again – and we expect this demand to continue throughout the summer months,” said Martin. 

This was echoed by Crawford Sinclair, commercial director at Innis & Gunn, who said draught products are likely to be “in high demand” after beer drinkers have spent much of the past year drinking packaged.

“Nothing beats watching a big game with your pals, in the pub, with a pint in hand,” said Sinclair.

“This experience is hard to replicate at home and doing so has also been largely prohibited over the last year.

“Pints is what makes the on-trade unique and therefore operators should look to have a solid, quality draught offering available and visible on-bar.”

With keen beer drinkers celebrating a return to their favourite venues, the tournament could also provide an opportunity to trade customers up to more premium draught options.

John Gemmell, on-trade category and commercial strategy director at Heineken UK, said sports fans tend to be willing to spend more per pint or bottle than the average pub customer.

“Encourage them to trade up to more premium options by listing them at the top right-hand side of your menu (where we know consumers look first) and on blackboards, as well as through staff recommendations,” said Gemmell. 

“While we expect well-known, popular brands will perform better and pints will be king over the course of the tournament, there is still an opportunity to encourage trade up with packaged brands.”

There’s no use in stocking premium products if they’re not delivered in premium condition, of course, and Martin at Tennent’s stressed the importance of quality service and maintaining the perfect pour throughout the tournament.

“Make sure staff are knowledgeable about your products, trained well on how to pour perfect serves and, of course, friendly and welcoming to consumers during busy periods,” he said. “A good quality upkeep routine that includes regular line cleaning and glass care will be crucial to ensure perfect, crisp and refreshing pints for drinkers as well as to minimise product wastage for outlets.”

Drinks aside, the tournament should also provide food outlets with the chance to grow revenues on match days.

Gemmell, at Heineken, said there are likely to be opportunities for food sales both before and after matches.

“51% of customers want food before the game starts and 37% after the match finishes,” said Gemmell. 

“Offering food and drink deals, such as simple ‘burger and drink’ promotions or package deals for larger groups, will help extend your trading period and increase spend per head.

“Streamline your menu to take the pressure off the kitchen and keep things quick and straightforward for staff – ensure they are all fully briefed on any changes and encourage them to upsell new items.

“Pre-ordering food and drink packages for groups who reserve a table will also aid your kitchen staff, as well as help with stock orders.”