Fear table service will stunt small drinks brands

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Spirits, Gin, Slingsby, Coronavirus

Smaller drinks producers fear table service will stifle sales as consumers won’t be able to see a pub’s full range, a craft gin maker has said.

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser (MA) ​in a video interview after celebrating the brand’s 5th​ anniversary, Marcus Black, co-founder of Slingsby Gin parent company the Spirit of Harrogate, said table service could lead to fewer sales for smaller makers.

Slingsby had already seen revenues reduce by 60% over the lockdown period with the loss of on-trade sales, despite a good rise in online sales, he said.

Set back a couple of years

However, the company had been set back by a couple of years due to the pandemic and it is therefore essential that brands such as Slingsby are able maintain presence in other parts of pubs and bars so as not to see a further sales dip.

“We like everyone else have our fingers crossed the on-trade will come back, but our estimates suggest it’s going to be a long period of time to recover,” he told The MA​.

“Certainly, in terms of premium brands, the concern is we and others will have is that with less ability for consumers to have bar recall with table service, the smaller premium brands will get squeezed out in favour of the larger ones.”

Asked whether the coronavirus would speed up any consolidation in the crowded craft gin market, Black indicated uncertainty, saying it could be argued both ways.

Big companies will likely have their own issues following the coronavirus lockdown, he explained, and would therefore be less inclined to acquire brands.

Aviation Gin by Ryan Reynolds

Yet, he added: “In the last few days we’ve seen Diageo buy [Ryan Reynold’s] Aviation Gin, so there clearly are transactions going on, but my feeling is they were being looked at long before coronavirus hit and that we’ll probably see a slow down in activity.”

Although, once the international markets pick up again, most probably next year, Black continued, brand mergers and acquisitions were likely to restart.

Watch the short video above to find out what else Black had to say about the craft gin category, as well as how the Spirit of Harrogate will grow business in the future.

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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