Accolade learning fast on COVID rollercoaster

24 June, 2020 by Andy Young

When Accolade Wines analysed the major impact the COVID lockdown had on its on-premise business, the company decided it had to launch an on-premise support package, ANZ Managing Director, Andrew Clarke has told TheShout.

While lockdown restrictions are gradually being eased, at different rates in different states and territories, the last few months have been some of the most challenging Australia’s liquor and hospitality industry has ever faced.

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Not only as a result of venues being closed, but with businesses forced to completely re-think how they operate, and where they operate, it has been a time for agility, quick thinking and adaptability.

For Accolade Wines, it has been no different, the company has had to adapt to many different parts of its business operating differently, or not at all, as ANZ Managing Director, Andrew Clarke told TheShout.

“It has certainly been a rollercoaster ride for the last four months and we have been learning fast along the way,” Clarke said.

“We have had to be agile with our decision-making in order to adapt to every new challenge, and one thing we’d hope to keep as an outcome of this COVID period is that greater agility and decision-making.”

He added: “We’ve also seen demand across our portfolio shift dramatically as the consumer reacts differently in terms of how, what and when they purchase, and obviously a switch to in-home consumption.

“Over the last few months our manufacturing sites have stayed fully operational and our vineyards were able to maintain the same through vintage.

“Our offices have been closed, but are now starting to open, as are our cellar doors as restrictions begin to ease.

“We’re pleased that our sales team are back out in the field and working hard to support our customers wherever possible and busy getting back on track and ready for a strong year ahead.”

But with on-premise accounting for around 20 per cent of wine sales in Australia, the impact of the Government-imposed COVID lockdown was obvious to Clarke and the Accolade team. And that’s why they launched the Your Venue, Our Shout initiative.

“[The shutdown] has had a major impact on all those people that work in and around On Premise: our customers, their teams, the consumer and our own business,” Clarke said.

“So as we start up again and venue doors begin to open, Accolade was keen to provide a support package that would help venues in some way through this re-opening phase.

The ‘Your Venue, Our Shout’ initiative is available to existing and new On-Premise customers. As part of the initiative, Accolade Wines will replace – as free stock – all of its wines sold in venues in the first month from venue re-opening. There are also increased discounts additional offers available.

Not surprisingly it has already proved popular, as Clarke told TheShout.

“There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to this support package both from our existing customers and from venues that haven’t carried our range of products before.

“It’s great to see that so many venues are showing really positive signs of getting back to some level of normal trading.

“What’s also been fantastic to see as an industry are many similar offers and activities of support, from both Accolade and our peers. One of the things I love about the liquor market is how we’re very much in it together, with On-Premise at the heart of the industry.”

And looking ahead for the rest of 2020, Clarke added: “This support package initially provides benefits for six months, which will take us close to Christmas.

“Through that time we will be assessing what worked well and what else we can do to play our part in making sure that On-Premise gets back to pre-COVID levels.”

To find out more about the Your Venue, Our Shout campaign, head to the Accolade Wines website.