On the eve of the 2020 Australian Drinks Awards, Lion Sales Director Mark Powell has discussed the difficulties faced by the brewer and its customers since it won 2019 Supplier of the Year.
“It has been a year of brand new challenges for Lion – and it would be fair to say these are challenges that we have never really had to face before as a supplier,” he said.
“From the worst bushfire season on record, to the continued drought, and then COVID-19 as well as a cyber attack, it hasn’t been an easy road for us.
“But it has just emphasised the importance of focusing on providing the best customer service we possibly can, in spite of any obstacles we face.”
After being placed in the top three for Supplier of the Year three years running, Lion took out the top award last year.
The winners of the Supplier category at the Awards are chosen via the annual Advantage Engagement Survey. The results of the survey will be more important than ever this year in light of the unique challenges the industry has overcome.
“The Advantage Survey gives us a good snapshot of the challenges customers are experiencing, and indeed the opportunities for suppliers in building better business relationships, and meeting customers’ needs,” said Powell.
“It absolutely goes without saying that the results of the 2020 Survey will be particularly compelling for all suppliers, as we know it has been an extremely difficult period for the beverages, hospitality and retail sectors, with bushfires and COVID-19 compounding to create a lot of uncertainty for all related industries.
“And we know it has been particularly challenging for the on-premise, following the mass closure of venues due to COVID-19, and now as they do their best to re-open with a raft of new requirements and considerations.
“From Lion’s perspective, we have put our customers at the heart of every decision we have made in dealing with COVID-19. It will be so important for the entire industry to work closely together to overcome what has been a really devastating start to the year.
“We would like to thank our customers for their ongoing support and partnership as we collectively tackle many of the adversities 2020 has thrown at us,” he said.
Lion’s initiatives to help the on-premise in recent months have included crediting venues for their unused kegs. Since pubs venues closed down, it has paid nearly $25 million back in the accounts of pubs, clubs and bars around the country.
The brewer has also helped pubs keep their draught beer systems clean and working with its draught quality system team working from home cleaning nearly 15,000 taps and couplers for customers, ready for re-opening.
Lion has also been sending free kegs to pubs in regional areas to help them get back on their feet.
Click here to register to watch the 2020 Australian Drinks Awards, which will be live streamed on Thursday, July 30, between 4.30pm and 5pm.
Lion holds pre-tax prices to help customers
Lion also announced this week that it has decided not to pass on increases to beer prices following the Australian Government’s latest round of tax hikes on beer.
The Australian beer tax is currently $2.26 per litre, but will increase on August 1. There has been widespread industry condemnation of the increase in light of the difficulties faced by the on-premise and brewers during COVID-19.
Brewers Association of Australia chief Brett Heffernan told AAP it was the wrong time to put further pressure the sector by increasing beer prices.
“The last thing people need is for beer tax to go up again in August,” he said.
“If we’re to fire the starter’s gun on the economy we have to dump the excise baggage.”
Powell wrote to customers saying: “In recognition that collectively we have faced bushfires, COVID-19 and a cyber attack, Lion is going to keep things simple and hold our prices flat this August.
“It’s another step to help our customers through a challenging year.
“This means no changes to our list prices for pack and draught beer and cider for the remainder of the year.”
CUB has also chosen to freeze its beer prices.