One of the first things restaurants did when the corona crisis broke out was to switch to delivery. In addition, some restaurants have also started selling freshly prepared cocktails at home. This fits in with a trend in which the consumer drinks less alcohol, but goes for better quality, says board chairman Huub van Doorne of the Lucas Bols distillery.
Lucas Bols depends on the catering industry for just over half of its total turnover. The company was therefore hit severely when the catering industry had to close almost everywhere. "In Asia, our cocktails are mainly in the catering industry. In Europe it is slightly more balanced, but in America it is also 75 to 80 percent. So for us it is all hands on deck," says Van Doorne.
Nevertheless, the corona crisis also brings new innovation, the CEO continues. "What we see especially in America is that restaurants and bars that had to close have started making delivery cocktails. They have started delivering cocktails to people at home. That is something new that is now being tapped. Now that they are opening again, we also hear that they say they will continue to do so. "
This development fits in with a broader trend. "People want to deal with alcohol responsibly in the field of spirits, but if they drink something, it should also be a bit better. Of better quality and a higher price. That trend had been going on for some time."
Lucas Bols builds relationship with bar staff
This means that consumers are more likely to choose a cocktail than a beer or wine. The distillery responds to this by building relationships with bartenders and women. It includes the Bols Bartending Acadamy. In recent years, more than three thousand bar people have been trained in preparing cocktails here.
Delivery of alcohol is much more complicated than delivery of meals, Van Doorne notes. "That is of course all bound by laws and regulations. If you deliver from a restaurant, you have to be very careful who you deliver it to the door." For example, you may not give alcohol to a minor. In addition, in the United States, the rules vary from state to state.
"Where our sales were 0 in March and April, we see it returning to 30 or 40 percent of the previous level in China." Huub van Doorne, chairman of the board Lucas Bols
For a real recovery, the catering industry must run at full speed again. The first figures from China are mixed. The country where the pandemic started was the first to 'open' again. There is a recovery, but turnover is far from the old level. "Where our sales were 0 in March and April, so to speak, we see it coming back to China. The catering visit there is perhaps 30 to 40 percent of what it was."
Van Doorne expects that it will take a while before everything is back to normal for Lucas Bols. This is mainly because consumers do not yet have the confidence to be together with larger groups again. "Every bar that opens now is a bright spot for us, but we will continue to experience it for the coming months."