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The most important attribute for suppliers during COVID-19

August 20, 2020
By Alana House

Asahi Premium Beverages General Manager Sales, Michael Ritoli, believes the most important attribute for suppliers to have during current restrictions and lockdowns is empathy.

“We know how difficult it has been, and will be, for our customers, particularly those in the hospitality world,” he explained. “We’ve tried to understand their most immediate challenges, which for many is cash flow and have been working closely with them to ensure they are supported through this demanding period.

“We continue to remain nimble and flexible in our approach to problem solving, identifying opportunities and putting measures in place to act quickly in a considered manner. Above all, we remain focused on our customers, ensuring they have access to our resources.

“Through the Open Arms program, for example, we’ve been busily commissioning hibernated equipment and providing cash flow solutions to those customers most in need through the help of our sales and credit teams.”

It’s been a huge six months for APB, from supporting its on-premise customers during lockdown to winning Most Improved Supplier of the Year at the 2020 Australian Drinks Awards and the recent announcement that it is combining with CUB.

Michael Ritoli

But one thing has remained constant for Ritoli (above): being responsive to his customers’ rapidly evolving needs.

He said taking out Most Improved Supplier of the Year was proof of the outstanding performance by his team in this regard.

“It’s a fantastic achievement to win the Most Improved Supplier as it recognises all the hard work our people put into providing the best service we can to our valued partners,” he said.

The benefits of having open arms

Ritoli said he was proud of the on-premise initiatives launched by Asahi and other suppliers during lockdown.

Asahi Open Arms

“In April, Asahi Premium Beverages launched the Open Arms Program,” he explained.

“Open Arms is a suite of support initiatives designed to help customers reopen, recover and regrow their hospitality businesses backed by a fund of over $1 million.”

“To help with cash flow, we also provided our customers with a suite of payment plan options that allowed venues to start trading and generate positive cash flow without the fear of going on credit hold as they scale-up again.

“We’ve had very positive feedback from our partners, many of whom are doing it tough at the moment. We hope that, in some small way, we can relieve some of that pressure and make life a little less challenging in the current environment.”

Read more about what 2020 has taught the Asahi team

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