Amber Beverage Group, a leading producer, distributor, logistics provider and retailer of beverages, has shared their insight into successful business continuity during the Covid-19 lockdown. Its CEO, Seymour Ferreira, outlines eight key learnings for the spirits business and how companies should best adapt their practices in an ever-changing business landscape.
Ferreira says, “My feeling for the spirits business in general is we are not looking at a quick return to the normal business landscape, certainly not this year, maybe not even next year either. What does this mean for the spirits business? I think we will see more focus on big brands and less innovation, because return on investment will be much slower, and I think we will see a consolidation in the route to market. Wholesalers and many HoReCa accounts will not survive over the next 6 months and small brands will start to suffer. Overall, I think we’re going to come out of this with a business landscape that is 30% below where it used to be and looking to grow from there. It is going to be very challenging for all companies.”
Ferreira’s 8 Key Learnings:
1. Ferreira’s first key tip is to focus on the wellbeing of your employees. “Amber Beverage Group wants to, and continues to ensure that its employees are secure, safe and well looked after, as much as possible during the Covid-19 situation. We moved very quickly once it became clear that we were dealing with something that was going to be bigger than SARS, for example, which I have some personal experience with, having lived in Asia during the SARS outbreak. So, I understood the severity of this, perhaps more than other people. We instituted a number of measures very quickly and the focus we gave to ensuring everyone was safe and secure, was robust and very well thought through.”
2. Be willing to take decisions very quickly and sometimes hard decisions such as cutting the investment on a brand in order to ensure that the money you spend is not being wasted whilst shops are closed, for example.
3. Focus on cashflow. This means watching your costs, managing your costs very closely, ensuring that the business has enough cash being generated to run itself.
4. Really focus on the details to make sure everything is running smoothly.
5. Increasing communication at every level in the organisation, is critical to being able to focus on the details and make rapid decisions.
6. Flexibility in terms of expectations and planning. “What we’re planning for today may be completely irrelevant tomorrow so there is a willingness to keep pushing forward and be ready to adapt and change within an hour,” Ferreira said.
7. You need a management team which is willing and able to be flexible. “When you change the company direction it increases the workload for a lot of people. They have to feel what they are doing is making a difference which is why communication is key in keeping the business dynamic,” Ferreira said.
8. Be more open to working from home and investing in digital and e-retailing and thinking completely differently about our businesses and how we operate them. We will probably see an increase in businesses moving from an office structure to more home-based working.
Ferreira concludes, “Any company with good leadership needs to be level-headed and needs to think broadly about the implications of everything that is happening at the moment. We are in the entertainment industry and the challenge is to continuing making it fun, exciting, and attractive to consumers, in a world which is full of challenges at the moment. Our industry has the perfect opportunity to help lighten everyone’s day.”
Amber Beverage Group is a holding company that has grown from its original core production business established in 1900, to become the global company that unites over 2,100 employees in almost 20 companies across four continents. ABG operates internationally from head office in Luxembourg through its production and distribution companies in Russia, Mexico, UK, Australia, Austria and the Baltics. It is a leading producer, distributor, logistic provider and retailer of alcoholic beverages.