The lockdown has hit beer group Swinkels Family Brewers hard and beer sales will not recover for the time being. However, the crisis also has positive sides, says chairman of the board Peer Swinkels. The company was able to adapt very quickly and bring several new beers to the market.

Swinkels is active worldwide with 26 beer brands, including Bavaria, Palm and Hollandia. It has breweries in Belgium, the Netherlands and Ethiopia. Like any brewer, the company is highly dependent on the catering industry. When it closed worldwide, the income was also beaten heavily.

In Ethiopia, for example, the company sells almost exclusively through small bars and restaurants, says Peer Swinkels. "So when the country went into lockdown, 95 percent of our sales channel suddenly disappeared. That is why we developed new packaging and quickly shifted our attention to other types of stores. As a result, our turnover fell, but not as hard as you would expect. . "

"There are also many positive things about the situation we ended up in corona." Pear Swinkels

Togetherness of a crisis

In other countries it has launched an online beer platform for the sale of specialty beers that are normally only available in the catering industry. It also launched several new beers, says Swinkels.

"We have now introduced a non-alcoholic variant for Swinckels 'beer brand (spelled differently from the surname, ed.) That we sell in the Netherlands, Swinckels' 0.0. There was already a plan to brew it, but we had not yet done anything about it. "We also launched Bavaria IPA 0.0 last year. We have now added a regular IPA to it. It also developed in a few weeks."

The crisis acted as a catalyst in the development and launch of these new products and services, says the CEO. "We set up opportunity teams with people from different disciplines. They started with a very clear assignment. I think it is great that you can suddenly achieve a lot in the togetherness of a crisis. So there are also many positive things about the situation we ended up in corona. "

"I think we should invest our greenery out of the crisis." Pear Swinkels

Open the tap for durability

Peer Swinkels wants the three hundred year old family business to emerge stronger from the crisis. Sustainability and circular entrepreneurship are high on the agenda.

The latter means that the brewer does not want to waste raw materials, energy and materials. "There is a danger that companies will turn off the tap for sustainability, but we now have the opportunity to think carefully about how we can get out of the crisis as a country, as a business community and as citizens. I think we are greening ourselves out of the crisis have to invest. "

The CEO hopes that when everything is back to normal, Swinkels will be able to maintain the fast way of working. "I think our company has always been known for being entrepreneurial, fast and flexible, but as long as the quality is good, it cannot be flexible and agile enough for me. The crisis has shown that it can all go together and that developments that we have not been able to do before I thought possible. The big challenge for me is to continue that after the crisis. "